If you are involved in a vehicle accident, you must protect yourself and your rights. Following is a list of the top 10 things you should do:
Never drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one. If you do the consequences can be very bad. If the accident involved serious physical injury or death and you caused it, you can be charged with a class 2 felony. In addition to having your license revoked for 5 years, you can be sentenced to simple probation or more than 12 years in prison.
2. PROTECT OTHER DRIVERS
If possible, remove the vehicles from the roadway. Prevent other accidents by setting up flares or activating your flashers. If it is dark and your lights don’t work, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your vehicle or by the side of the road. It is a good idea to keep a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle for such an occasion.
3. CALL THE POLICE
Even if there are no injuries, call the police. In fact, a police report is required to be filed when an officer investigates an accident that involves injury or property damage over $1,000. The police report is also valuable because it is created at or near the time of the accident when events are still fresh, memories more reliable and evidence can be preserved.
4. EXCHANGE INFORMATION
The police will provide you with an exchange of information card with the other driver’s information and insurance. If the police do not respond to the accident, you should obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved including passengers. If there are witnesses, you should get information from them as well. You should also make sure the insurance information is valid by double
checking the insurance card.
5. MAKE A RECORD
Make sure you tell the police exactly what happened. If you do not know certain facts or information, say so. Do not speculate, guess or misstate anything. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure. Often, the pain and injuries become apparent hours after the actual collision.
6. TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS
If you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the vehicles and their locations. Photograph any visible injuries.
7. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
Even in accidents involving a minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury. Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Most report feeling pain a day or two following the accident. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, seek medical
attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for even a short period of time, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
Make sure you medical record are accurate. If there is anything in the records that is not accurate, ask the physician to amend the record to reflect accurate information.
8. NOTIFY INSURANCE CARRIERS
Notify your insurance company. Many policies require immediate reporting of the accident and full cooperation. If you have concerns about reporting the accident, contact an attorney to report the accident on your behalf.
9. KEEP A FILE
Keep all the accident-related documents in one location that is easy to find. This information should include a claim number, the identity of the adjuster that is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and anything else accident related. You may also want to keep a diary of your pain levels, troubles and anything else you find significant.
10. ADVOCATE YOUR RIGHTS
The most important thing to do after an accident is consult an attorney. Your attorney can 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. Especially, if the statement can be used against you later. Your attorney can guide you on these issues including on how to make sure you are fully compensated. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless they win or recover for you.