There are several steps you should take immediately following a car accident:
1) Move your vehicle away from oncoming traffic to avoid any additional accidents.
2) Make sure you’re in a safe place and call the police (dial 911 if anyone is injured).
3) Wait for the police to arrive and file an accident report, especially if there is significant property damage, serious bodily injury, or death.
4) Exchange information with other involved parties, including:
- Contact information (i.e., addresses, telephone numbers, email)
- Insurance information
- License plate numbers
- Vehicle’s make, model, year, and color
- Vehicle’s registration number
- Driver’s license number
5) Get statements from any witnesses as well as their names and contact information.
6) Take photos of all vehicles’ damage, all physical injuries, and any evidence that shows road and/or weather conditions.
7) Seek appropriate medical attention as soon as possible. Often, hidden injuries, such as whiplash, TMJ, or traumatic brain injuries, catch victims off-guard in the days following an accident and become acute. Seeking medical treatment is beneficial for two reasons:
- It provides documentation of your physical injuries
- It starts your recovery.
8) Talk to your insurance company as soon as possible.
If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, we recommend that you go through your own insurance company for repairs to your vehicle.
Of course, your insurance company is going to encourage you to go through the at-fault party’s insurance company to avoid payment. However, you will be better off filing with your own insurance company. Your insurance company, unlike the other driver’s insurance company, owes you certain duties and obligations to act in good faith. Though you will need to pay a deductible, this payment will be reimbursed through the other driver’s insurance company if you were not at-fault for the accident. For this reason, your insurance company may waive the deductible if they learn you were not at-fault for the accident.
Find out if you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on your insurance agreement. PIP coverage allows you to pay for medical treatment from the medical provider of your choice.
9) Research different attorneys in your state, and schedule consultation appointments to determine whether you wish to be represented by an attorney. The sooner you get an attorney involved, the better. If your attorney works on a contingent fee basis (like our firm), you will receive more service for the same price. Additionally, an attorney can handle stressful tasks on your behalf, such as communicating with the insurance companies. This service allows you to focus on the most important task—your treatment and recovery.