Auto Accident – Crash Course. A Paralegal’s Perspective
In the minutes and hours that follow an injury car accident, there are a number of things you can (and should never) do to protect your rights and facilitate your recovery. No matter where you are at in the process, Phillips and Pelly attorneys can manage your injury accident claim for the best results possible. Below is a list of tips to get you through the first few hours after your accident:
1. DON’T IMMEDIATELY LEAVE THE SCENE of a car accident, no matter how big of a rush you may feel to leave. Small mistakes after a car accident can lead to big issues when presenting your accident injury claim.
2. DO PROTECT THE SCENE. The vehicles involved in the auto accident should remain where they are, unless they interfere with traffic. Prevent further accidents by setting up flares, reflectors or keeping your hazard lights on, if this can be done safely. If it is dark and your lights don’t work, a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your disabled car or by the side of the road.
3. DO CALL THE POLICE. It is a good idea to call the police after a car accident injury claim. You may need a police report to file a claim, even if the other driver admits fault to you. This often changes later and by having the police document the other drivers statements at the scene, you have it locked in.
4. DO MAKE AN ACCURATE RECORD. When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer(s) exactly how the car accident happened. If you do not know certain facts, tell that to the officer. Do not speculate, admit fault, guess or misstate any of the facts. If you are asked if you are injured in the accident and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Injuries often arise in the days after a serious car accident. You should also make sure statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well.
5. DO TAKE PICTURES. If you happen to have a camera with you, take pictures of the cars involved in the crash. If you have visible injuries from the accident, you should photograph them as well. However, you should in no way interfere with the on-going police investigation. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the auto accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
6. DO EXCHANGE INFORMATION. Especially if the police do not respond to the accident, you should obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, drivers and passengers alike. You should also obtain information about insurance by asking to see the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, you should get information from them as well so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future.
7. DO REPORT THE ACCIDENT to your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. If you were injured, you should do this with the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer.
8. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Most of our clients report feeling the most pain a day or two following an automobile accident. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician. Even in auto accidents involving minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for even a short period of time following the collision, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
9. KEEP A FILE of all your injury accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the insurance adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and other expenses incurred as a result of the car accident.
10. PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Phillips and Pelly attorneys can advise you on all issues associated with any type of injury accident.