You have been in an accident, now what?
With the average American spending between 9,000 and 12,000 miles on the road each year you have to accept the fact that life happens. It is the natural outgrowth of our love affair with driving. So the best advice anyone can give is – stay calm.
Are you hurt? Call 911. Is the other driver hurt? Call 911. Is the car badly damaged and you can’t move it out of the road? Call 911.
Can you move the car without getting out of the vehicle? Move it off the roadway, then call 911.
It is always good to have a record of the incident, even if you are not hurt, or the damage is very minor. You never know what representations the other driver will make to insurance adjusters or others, so calling 911 and telling the police what happened just to keep a records is always a good idea.
What information do I exchange?
Let’s think about this for a moment. If you decide to bring a claim, whether for personal injury or property damage, you need to know which insurance company to call. So where is that information located? At a minimum you need to know who hit you, what insurance the automobile had. If you can, take a picture of the person’s license, insurance card and registration.
Photos of the damage are also helpful in case the police report is inaccurate, or there is a dispute as to what damage occurred in the accident.
I am in some pain from the accident, what should I do?
Sometimes you feel the pain immediately, and sometimes the adrenaline has to wear off before you feel pain, usually the next day, but the proscribed course of conduct is the same – get medical treatment if you think you need it.
Let’s be honest, if you throw your back out painting your living room ceiling sometimes you need to see the doctor, and sometimes you can let it play out. Do what you feel is necessary to get healthy. That is goal number one. See a provider that you normally would and if you have health insurance use it.
But as they say hindsight is 20/20, and putting on my lawyer hat for a moment, documenting everything is good practice. It is always helpful when prosecuting a claim to have documentation of any accident-related injury shortly after the collision. If you think the injury will dissipate and you delay reporting for a month it will give the insurance company some cover in denying or reducing your compensation.
Do I need a personal injury attorney?
Almost all personal injury attorneys will answer your questions free of charge, so there is no harm in asking questions. If the injury appears like it will linger, has cost you time from work, or has disrupted your life you might be entitled to compensation. A personal injury attorney will describe the way a case unfolds, and explain the costs and benefits of bringing a claim. Only you can decide if filing a claim is necessary, but that is a tough decision to make without first speaking with an experienced attorney.