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What Do I Do After a Car Accident?

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A car accident is a very serious situation.  It is never planned, so you must be prepared if that day ever comes.  When a car accident happens, injuries may be severe and emotions may be high, but preparation can help you to take control of a very hectic situation.

The following information are things that you should do if ever involved in a motor vehicle accident or pedestrian accident.

1.  Staying at the Scene of the Accident is a Must (But There Are EXCEPTIONS)

  • You should never leave the scene of an accident, especially if someone has sustained injuries or was killed.  The last thing you want is to face serious criminal penalties for being a "hit-and-run" driver.
    • The EXCEPTION is if you were hit by another vehicle in a deserted area.  In this situation you must use caution in getting out of your vehicle.  There have been reports of incidents where a person exited their vehicle in a deserted or unsafe area after being hit by another vehicle, only to be robbed or killed.  When you feel unsafe because of the area; it is best to drive, if possible to the nearest police station to report the accident.  If this is not an option for you, then remain in your vehicle and call the police and wait till they arrive to the scene.

2.  Check on All Drivers and Passengers

  • You should always first check to make sure that everyone else involved in the accident is okay.  Most individuals get out of their vehicle to look at the property damage first, but you must get into the routine of making sure everybody is okay.  Get medical attention for anyone who may need it. 
  • If a person is unconscious or complains of neck or back pain, then it is best to not move them until qualified medical personnel arrive.
    • The EXCEPTION is if an injured person is lying in a pool of gas, and you are afraid that it might ignite at any moment.  This is a decision that you must take at your own risk.  If you feel that you must help this person out, then you must proceed with precaution.  Try to move them as steadily and slowly as possible while supporting their neck and back.  The less movement, the better. 

3.  Call the Police

  • It is always important to call the police, especially if the accident involves significant property damage, physical injury, or death.  Ask the police officer if a police report can be taken and filed. 
    • Good information to write down is the name and badge number of any responding officers.

4.  Exchange Information

  • Important information to write down are names, phone numbers, addresses, drivers' license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information, of anybody involved in the accident. 
  • Do not apologize for anything, be very polite and cooperative while talking to everyone and exchanging basic information.
    • Do Not Ever, get out of your vehicle and blurt out, "I'm so sorry, it was all my fault."  The last thing you want to do is admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily. 

5.  Talk to Witnesses

  • Ask and write down what every witness saw.  Make sure to get their names, telephone numbers or addresses, if possible.
  • Ask them, if they have ever witnessed other accidents in the same place your accident took place.
    • Write down all the information they give you, but do not pressure witnesses if they appear hesitant in giving more information or any information at all.  If they agree, simply get their name and phone number so that you can have a point of reference in case they need to be contacted.

6.  Contact the Insurance Company

  • Contact the insurance company and take an active interest in making sure your rights are protected.
  • Obtain and review a copy of any police report, so that you can know what the reporting officer stated.
  • Cooperate with the insurance company by telling them the truth and the extent of your injuries.
    • If the insurance company finds out that you are not being truthful, then you may get in serious trouble, and also be denied coverage for the accident.

7.  Document All Your Medical Treatment

  • Keep all documents from any doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you have received treatment from, and each medical provider that referred you to other caregivers.
    • It would be a great idea to keep a diary of all information dealing with your medical treatment.

8.  Take Pictures

  • Take pictures of your personal injuries after the accident.
  • Take pictures of your property damage after the accident.
    • You should always take a picture of your vehicle when you first purchase it, so that you can show how it looked before the accident.  Having pictures of yourself before the accident would be a great idea as well.

9.  Get a Property Damage Valuation

  • Have your insurance company provide a damage valuation.
  • If it's considered a total lost, get two estimates for the repairs on your own, or have two other car dealerships give a quote for the value of your vehicle.
  • Voice your concerns to the adjuster and your position, and make sure to be assertive.
    • If you cannot come to an agreement on the value of your car, consult an attorney.

10.  Stay Away From Social Media

  • Do not post anything about your accident on any Social Media.
  • You should always be Cautious to whom you discuss your accident with.
  • Do not discuss any details about your accident to anyone other than your attorney, your insurance company, and the police.
  • If representatives from other insurance companies call you, do not be rude, but request that they get in contact with your attorney, or insurance company
    • Make sure to write down the name and number of the person who contacted you, and inform your attorney or insurance company about who contacted you.

11.  Think Twice Before Considering Any Early Settlement Offers

  • Don't settle a claim until you know you will be compensated for all your injuries, and consult an attorney before signing any documents pertaining to a settlement.
  • Make sure your physical injuries that you suffered due to the accident have been completely treated, and that you have a doctor's prognosis.
    • Be aware that you may not feel some injuries right away.  It may take days, weeks, or even months before feeling any discomfort of the injury.

If you have been involved in a car accident and need a free confidential consultations, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 817-335-5100.  You may also Click Here to submit any questions or concerns you may have.