“I WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT, NOW WHAT?” Part 1

What to do at the scene of an accident.

A car accident can leave you feeling a bit scattered, in shock, or angry at the person who caused the accident.  It can also leave you feeling unsure of what to do immediately following the accident and what information to gather.

  1. Assess for Injuries and Call the Police

The first thing you should do after you are involved a car accident is take a deep breath and assess for injuries.  If you, your passengers, or anyone else involved in the accident are injured and in need of emergent medical treatment, immediately call 911 and request an ambulance.  Even if there are no serious injuries or property damage, it is still a good idea to call the police.  You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to get your vehicle repaired.

  1. Take Photographs and Do Not Move the Vehicles

Take photographs to document what happened.  Key photographs that you should take include:

  • Photographs of the scene. This would include pictures of the accident, where the cars ended up, and if it was raining or snowing, a picture of the roadway.
  • Photographs of your vehicle. Make sure to take photographs of any of the damage that you see on the inside and outside of your vehicle.
  • Photographs of the other driver’s vehicle. Make sure to take photographs of any damage done.

If you can, do not move the vehicles unless they are causing a major problem with traffic.  If possible, wait for the police before moving anything.  If you do have to move the vehicles, document the accident with photographs prior to moving the vehicles.

  1. Ensure Accurate Report to the Police

When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officers exactly what happened.  If you do not know certain facts, do not speculate or guess.   For example, if you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no.  Often times, pain and injuries from a car accident are not apparent until hours after the crash.  You should also tell them anything about what the other driver said to you about the accident to make sure the report is accurate.

  1. Information Gathering

At the scene there is various information that you should gather that will assist you when talking with the insurance companies after the accident and making a claim.

  • Information regarding the Driver that caused the accident:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number or other contact information
  • Insurance company name and phone number
  • Insurance policy number
  • Vehicle description (make, model, and year – consider taking photos)
  • Vehicle VIN number
  • License Plate Number
  • Information regarding any other people involved
  • If there are more than two vehicles involved in the car accident, make sure to gather the same information from those individuals as you did from the person who caused the accident.
  • Information regarding the Car Accident or Collision
  • Date and time of accident
  • Address of accident, or approximate address
  • Description of the accident, including:
  • What road and direction each car was traveling before and at the time of the accident
  • Notes regarding driving conditions (ex. weather, heavy traffic, road conditions)
  • Your account of what happened
  • Statements by the other driver
  • Witness names and contact information
  • Police Report Number and which police department arrived on scene. If you have the name and contact information of the officer that came to the scene, document that as well.

It is smart to keep a file regarding anything accident related.  It would include all of the information above, any notes that you keep about the accident, any correspondence from the insurance companies, and any medical records or bills related to the car accident.

  1. Aftermath

After you leave the scene of the accident and gather all of the information above, there are various things that you should do, which are explained in other articles.  You will need to contact your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company to make claims for both your property and any injury that you have.  You will need to seek medical attention, even if it is just a visit to your primary doctor to make sure everything is okay.

  1. Consider Consulting or Hiring an Attorney

If anyone was injured in the accident, it is best to consult an experienced attorney.  Here at Shapiro Winthers P.C., our experienced attorneys can help you maximize your recovery if you are injured.  We can advise you on a wide range of issues, including making sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle, to how to talk to the insurance companies, to making sure that you are getting the best medical treatment available.  We work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

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