I thought it would be fitting to compile a ‘What to Do Immediately Following an Accident’ list, based upon frequently asked questions.
Often when suffering from shock or experiencing a rush of adrenaline from injuries which can stem from accidents, important steps can be overlooked when making decisions.
This list would be useful to keep in your vehicle, should you be involved in or witness an accident to ensure you don’t find yourself in a predicament later on. What you do at the scene is of utmost importance.
The following is my advice based on 25 years of legal experience of what to do immediately after an accident, and in the days to follow:
AT THE SCENE
- MEDICAL ATTENTION. After determining if anyone is hurt, CALL 911. Ask for a police officer to be sent to the scene, even if no one is injured or the property damage does not seem to be extensive. Creating a record of the collision is of absolute importance, and is vital in the investigation process.
- ASSESS THE SCENE. If safe to do so, get out of your vehicle to assess the accident and vehicle damage.
- MOVING YOUR VEHICLE. Unless you or others are in danger, wait until after the police have arrived and told you it is okay to move your vehicle.
- TAKE PICTURES. If you have a camera accessible, take pictures from all angles. Take photos of the location, vehicles involved, and anything important to the scene of the crash.
- OBTAIN INFORMATION. From all drivers, passengers, and witnesses, obtain names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and insurance information (from drivers). For all vehicles, write down the make, model, year, and license plate number.
FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT
- NOTIFY YOUR AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY. If you have personal injury protection (“PIP”) or medical payments (“medpay”) through your auto insurance, you can make a claim for your benefits. Be sure the PIP adjuster advises you of all benefits you are entitled to receive and answers all of your questions. These benefits may include medical costs, wage loss continuation, loss of services, and other items of coverage.
- IF INJURED, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. If you have not seen a physician, and you suspect you may be injured, go to your primary care physician as soon as possible. Creating a record of your injury is MANDATORY. Your primary care physician will record your symptoms, and refer to a correct specialist if needed.
- INFORM YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. Tell them what happened and how you are feeling. It is very important to inform them of each and every new and different symptom which, in your mind, was caused by the accident. This will ensure your provider can accurately diagnose which injuries were caused in the collision, and provide an objective basis for their diagnosis.
- KEEP A DIARY OR PAIN JOURNAL. Absolutely. This will be of utmost value when memories fade, and the chronological order of events is jumbled. This can be protected by attorney-client privilege if you hire an attorney. Write down your symptoms and activities you are having trouble with, and write REGULARLY. Consistency is important, and can indicate improvement in symptoms.
- BEFORE GIVING A STATEMENT TO AN INSURANCE COMPANY…CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. You should immediately contact an attorney who practices in personal injury claims before giving a statement. This will be a written record of YOUR version of what happened, and you will be asked about your injuries. It is only mandatory to cooperate with your own insurance company, contrary to what other representatives may say. The other insurance company is an adversary, and should be treated as such.
- FOCUS ON GETTING BETTER. Hiring good legal counsel will ease your mind, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your attorney. A legal claim for personal injury takes time, and you want to allow your body to heal. While you’re going through the process, trust your attorney, and place your focus on your health.
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Although our office does not handle all types of cases, we hope you will contact us regarding any legal issues you may encounter. We will answer your questions, or refer you to another quality and trustworthy attorney if we are unable to assist you.