You have probably seen a lot of commercials on TV or heard ads over the radio that start like this:
“Hurt in a car accident? You need the legal services of ……,”
Or something to that effect.
It is always a good idea to seek the advice of an attorney following any accident where an injury occurs. However, in the immediate aftermath of a car accident, specifically in the minutes that follow the crash, many people do not know what they should do to keep themselves safe and to protect their legal rights. Below are some important points for dealing with the aftermath of a personal injury accident.
If you are involved in a minor incident, try your best to stay calm.
1. Call 911 If Anyone Is Hurt:
Always evaluate whether anyone has been hurt, and if so, call 911.
2. Identify the Other Car:
Identify any other cars involved in the accident: the make, the model, and the license plate. Don’t forget, in emergency situations it is not against the law to use your cell phone in your car.
3. Get Off The Road:
If you’re in a minor accident, you should move your car to safety when possible. This means driving off to the shoulder, or to a nearby parking lot with the other car to exchange information. If you feel moving your car will cause further damage, then do not try to move your car.
4. Call The Police:
Next, you should call the police. Most insurance policies require a copy of a police report in order to pay insurance claims.
If your car is still on the road, wait for police to arrive before you exit to talk to the other driver. When the police arrive they will be able to set up a perimeter, and use their car and flashing lights to direct traffic.
5. Collecting Information:
After you have called the police, you should locate your insurance documents. The back of your insurance card will usually detail the steps to take or the information to gather following an accident.
The police officer, as part of their responsibilities, will typically fill out a report and take a statement from each party involved.
Your cell phone is your best friend following an accident. Use your cell phone to take pictures and videos of the scene of the accident. Make sure to take pictures and video of the damage to the cars, the position of the cars, and nearby street signs and traffic signals. These will aid in determining specifically where or how the accident took place.
When exchanging information with the other driver, be sure to get their name, address, phone number, insurance carrier, and insurance policy number. To better fill in these details, ask to take a picture of their insurance card with your cell phone.
If you are involved in a major accident, and if you are capable, you should immediately turn your car engine off, turn your hazard lights on, and call 911 if you have access to your phone. If you smell smoke, or see flames, do not wait for help, exit the car immediately.
Following a major accident, especially one that involves an injury or a trip to the hospital, you should contact an attorney immediately.
There are many complicated details surrounding car accidents that attorneys are better equipped to handle. While most people have and pay for liability insurance, insurance matters following an accident are complex.
Other complicated details involve pursuing legal action. Depending on the type of accident, and who the accident is with, there are time limits and deadlines on your potential legal action. If you miss these legal deadlines, you may miss out on recovery.
Often insurance companies seek to take recorded statements from motorists and may attempt to resolve your case very shortly after an accident. It is important to know your rights and look out for your interests following an accident.
At LaMarche Safranko Law, we represent people who are injured following automobile accidents and are experienced in dealing with all aspects of the accident aftermath.