Car accidents can be very confusing events. In addition to trying to figure out your rights under different insurance agreements, you could be going from doctor to doctor to treat your injuries. Add in an inability to work, and many of our clients come to us experiencing significant stress about what to do following a car accident.
To maximize your chances of receiving a favorable settlement, there are certain things you should do—and not do—following a car accident in Seattle. Follow this car accident checklist before reaching to Premier Law Group today for a free consultation.
Move Your Vehicle to the Side of the Road
You need to get out of the way, if possible. Of course, your car could have been rendered completely inoperable after a devastating crash, in which case you will need a tow truck. But if you can move to the side of the road, then do so.
Check if Anyone Needs an Ambulance
Ask any passengers in your car if they need you to call emergency services. You can also check with other drivers and passengers of the other vehicles involved. If you are badly hurt, ask someone else to call for you.
Call the Police
An officer should visit the scene to write a police report. It is important to report accidents where anyone has suffered a bodily injury, no matter how slight. You should also call if there has been significant damage to any vehicle. The police report plays a critical role in an insurance claim, so make sure to obtain a copy.
Exchange Information with Other Drivers
Share the following with any driver of a vehicle involved in a crash, and get the same from them:
- Contact information, such as address, phone number, and email
- Insurance information
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration number
- License plate number
- Make, model, and year of all vehicles involved
You will need this information to make a claim for compensation, and it is easier to get it at the scene of the accident than to try and collect it later.
Identify Witnesses to the Crash
You will want contact information from all people who witnessed the accident. You can also ask them what they saw or wait for your attorney to interview them. Some witnesses might be so badly shaken that they don’t have much to say, but you should at least get their name, phone number, and email.
Take Photographs of Damage to Vehicles
A picture really is worth a thousand words. By the time you go to trial, every car involved in the crash will either have been repaired or junked, so you need to carefully document the condition of each car immediately after the accident.
Walk around all sides of each vehicle involved and use your smart phone to photograph any damage. Get pictures from different angles, since some dings and scratches show up better from certain positions.
Also take photos of any debris or anything that seems significant. If a car skidded to avoid the crash, get a picture of the skid marks on the road or in the grass. If debris came flying off a vehicle, take a picture of that. The more pictures the better.
Avoid Admitting Fault
Fault matters in Washington. If you are at fault, you either won’t get compensation or you might receive far less than you could otherwise get if you were blameless. It is important not to take responsibility for the accident. Remember that anything you say could pop up later and be used against you, either at trial or during negotiations. Instead, keep small talk to a minimum as you wait for the police to arrive.
Notify Your Insurer
They need to know about the accident. Call them as soon as possible after the accident to report the collision.
Go to the Doctor
Some injuries take a day or two to develop, but you should go to the doctor anyway. A doctor can help document the injuries and provide proper treatment. Remember to follow any advice your doctor gives, because you could be accused of contributing to your injuries if you don’t.
Meet with an Experienced Seattle Car Accident Lawyer
Although the car settlement process might seem straightforward, there are often snags. Some cases are slowed down by disputes about fault or about the severity of your injuries. Often, insurers make a very low initial offer, hoping an injured client accepts it out of desperation.
At Premier Law Group, our lawyers have obtained favorable settlements for many motorists injured in a Seattle car accident. If you need help with your case, please contact us today for a free consultation.