Calling them “accidents” is misleading unless you believe cars crashing into each other are the result of the alignment of the planets. Car accidents happen because someone, usually the driver of at least one of the vehicles involved in the crash, was at fault.
Your right to recover compensation for the personal injuries and property damage caused by the negligence of another driver depends upon what you say and do following the crash. Protect your right to be compensated by taking the following steps.
A crash may leave you shaken and confused. Try to remain calm while you check to determine if you or anyone else has been injured. Call 911 to report the accident. Let the 911 operator know if you or anyone else needs medical attention.
If you are injured, remain in the car and wait until emergency medical personnel have arrived on the scene and checked to ensure that it is safe for you to move. Do not move your car until the police complete their investigation of the accident and tell you it can be moved.
It helps to contact the police even when no one suffers physical injuries. The official accident report prepared by the police contains all of the information about the vehicles and drivers involved in the accident along with the location and conditions of each vehicle, which you will need to report it to your insurance company. It also provides documentation of the accident scene as observed by the police officer.
Get medical treatment for your injuries
Allow emergency medical personnel to examine you to determine the nature of your injuries. Keep in mind that the severity of some types of injuries may not be immediately apparent. For example, do not assume that a headache is nothing to worry about. It may be a symptom of a potentially life-threatening traumatic brain injury.
Even if paramedics determine that you do not need to be transported by ambulance to a hospital, you should follow up with your own doctor as soon after the accident as possible. Whiplash, which is a common injury suffered by occupants of vehicles in rear-end collisions, may begin as minor discomfort but become worse in the hours and days after the accident.
Document the accident
Documenting the accident scene may be crucial to the success of your claim for compensation. Use your cellphone or a camera to take pictures of the following:
· Position of each of the vehicles involved in the crash.
· The physical condition of each vehicle, including any visible damage.
· Physical injuries suffered by you or occupants of your vehicle.
Depending upon the severity of any injuries you suffer in the accident, ask someone to take pictures of the scene if you are unable to do so.
Making notes about the accident while everything is still fresh in your mind can be of help later on when it may be difficult to recall important details. Some of the items to write down include:
· What you recall about the accident, including movement of each of the vehicles at and just prior to the collision.
· Names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident.
· Statements the other driver made to you or to the police.
· A sketch showing what you recall about how the accident occurred.
Include in your notes the names of the police, fire and ambulance agencies responding to the scene, so your attorney can request copies of reports from each of them about the accident.
Report the claim to your insurance company
You must report the accident to your auto insurance company as soon after the accident as possible. A call to the company or to your insurance agent starts the process, which may include filling out claim forms and accident report forms they send to you.
If you suffered injuries, now would be a good time to call a personal injury attorney to get legal advice and guidance about your options for making a claim for compensation against the parties responsible for causing the accident. Speak with the attorney before making statements about how the accident occurred or the extent of your injuries with anyone, including claims adjusters and investigators working on behalf of other parties involved in the crash.
Statements you make to strangers at the scene of the crash or to claims adjusters and investigators for an at-fault driver’s insurance company may become evidence to be used to defeat your claim for damages. The best thing to do in order to preserve your rights to compensation is by letting your attorney handle all communications with the other party’s insurance company and its representatives.
Author’s Bio: Steve Howards
Steve has been writing legal-centric articles for several years now. He started working with the personal injury attorney law firm Herrig & Vogt in 2019 as the Content Marketing Manager, which has allowed him to expand on his writing in personal injury, family law, and much more. Steve strives to offer the public advice on various laws covering a variety of practices.