Car accidents impact every community in the country. According to data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), there are more than 120,000 collisions reported in our state every year—in other words, there is an average of one crash every four minutes.
Even the safest and most careful of drivers could still be involved in a serious accident. Every person should be prepared. You need to know what to do to protect your health, well-being, and legal rights. Here, our Seattle auto accident lawyers explain the five things that you must do after a crash.
Report the Accident to Law Enforcement
All major accidents should be reported to state or local law enforcement. As explained by the Washington State Department of Licensing, you have a legal responsibility to report a crash to the police if:
- Any person suffered a bodily injury; or
- There was $1,000 or more of total property damage.
To be sure, $1,000 in collective property damage is quite a low threshold. In practice, it means that virtually all multi-vehicle accidents should be reported to authorities. If you or your loved one was hurt in the crash, it is in your best interest to ensure that a police officer is dispatched to the collision site to control the scene.
Exchange Information and Document the Crash
Drivers in Washington have a legal duty to exchange information will all other parties involved in the crash. You will want to collect as much information as possible from other drivers. Among other things, this includes:
- Driver’s license number;
- License plate number;
- Make and model of vehicle;
- Phone number and other contact information; and
- Insurance policy details.
Beyond getting basic information from the other driver, you should also try to gather all other relevant evidence from the scene of the crash. For example, it is recommended that you take photographs of the accident. The more detailed the pictures you have, the better off you will be. Additionally, you should try to obtain contact information for every person who witnessed the crash.
Get Medical Attention for Any Injuries
Nothing can come before your health. If you suffered a severe injury in an accident, you need emergency care. Emergency medical needs always come first. Non-emergency injuries should also be evaluated by a trained physician. You will not be eligible to make a personal injury claim if you have not seen a doctor. Further, if you fail to attend follow-up medical appointments, you may be denied the full and fair financial compensation that you deserve. Do not take chances with your health: Get checked out after an accident.
Avoid Making a Statement to an Opposing Insurance Company
In the days or weeks after a crash, you should expect to receive a phone call from an insurance company—it could be your own insurer, the other driver’s insurer, or both. Be very careful when dealing with the insurance company’s representatives.
While insurance adjusters are trained to come across in a friendly and non-intimidating manner, the hard truth is that they are not on your side. Quite the contrary, the insurance company is looking for any information that they can use against you to reduce the value of your claim or to deny liability altogether. You are not obligated to speak to an opposing insurance company immediately after an accident.
Consult With an Experienced Washington Car Accident Attorney
Navigating the car accident claims process is complicated. If you suffered a serious injury or if you are having trouble accessing full and fair financial compensation, you should be represented by an attorney.
Our law firm offers free, fully confidential case evaluations to auto accident victims. During a free consultation, we will review your accident and let you know if you need to hire an attorney. If you are better off handling your claim on your own, we will tell you. On other hand, if you can benefit from a car accident lawyer, our team will take immediate action to protect your rights.
Schedule a Free, No Obligation Review of Your Car Accident Case
At Premier Law Group, our Washington auto accident lawyers provide attentive, client-focused advocacy to injured victims. If you were injured in a crash, we will help you maximize your settlement or verdict. For a free, completely confidential review of your personal injury claim, please contact us right away. From our law offices in Seattle, Renton, Federal Way, and Bellevue, we serve communities throughout Western Washington.