According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 40,000 people die on our nation’s roadways and hundreds of thousands are seriously injured every year. Many of these people are victims of someone else’s negligence.
After an incident of this nature, your life can become very complicated very quickly. You likely have questions about your injuries, how to pay your medical bills, and how to get your car repaired. And, you’re probably overwhelmed about talking to police, dealing with insurance adjusters, and filing your claim, never mind that you’re trying to recover from your injuries and get back to work!
No one wants to believe they will ever find themselves in this position, but having some knowledge about what to do if you are in an accident can go a long way toward making the aftermath easier.
Here are a few useful tips and a plan of action you can implement after an automobile accident:
Stop: The first thing you need to do when you get in an auto accident is stop. DO NOT make the mistake of driving away, even if you believe it’s just a minor fender bender and not your fault. You could face criminal hit-and-run charges if officials determine that you “fled the scene of the accident.”
Safety first: If you have been involved in an accident and you have not been seriously injured, move your car to the side of the road out of the way of oncoming traffic. If you are unable to move the vehicle, all occupants should remain inside with seatbelts fastened until help arrives. It’s always a good idea to keep items such as orange traffic cones, emergency flares, and warning triangles in the trunk of your car in anticipation of such situations.
The Importance of an Emergency Kit: Keep the following items in your glove compartment in the event of a car crash
- a flashlight, disposable camera, emergency flares, set of cones, notepad, pen and batteries. Also carry a card with medical information about allergies and any pre-existing health conditions of which physicians should be aware, and keep a list of emergency contact numbers for law enforcement agencies.
Documenting the Accident: It’s not an exaggeration to say that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to accident scene photographs. You can draw diagrams until you run out of paper, and describe a scene until you become hoarse, but replaces photos of the scene. Focus on damage to vehicles, any injuries and the position of the vehicles on the roadway. These are the graphic illustrations of exactly what happened and of the resulting consequences.
Getting important information: After an accident, there is a lot of important information you would be well-advised to gather. This includes:
- Name of the parties involved.
- Physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses.
- Name of the other driver’s insurance company.
- The other driver’s auto insurance policy number.
- Driver license number (for each driver involved.)
- Vehicle license plate number (for all the vehicles involved.)
- Written description of each car including the year, make, model and color.
- Exact location of the collision.
- Description of how the collision occurred.
Remember, never admit that the accident was your fault, even if you think that is the truth. Be polite. Never get in a fight or altercation. Remain calm.
Filing an Accident Report: All drivers must file a state vehicle accident report, which is available from the Department of Motor Vehicles or at police stations. You can even download this form from the DMV’s website. The police report will help insurance companies to speed up the claims process.
Don’t forget the critical points that will help the claims process to proceed smoothly.
- Always be honest and truthful.
- If you are injured, get medical attention right away.
- Be aware of where you are going for medical treatment and car repairs.
- Obtain comprehensive documentation to support your claim.
The guidance of an experienced lawyer can be invaluable in the aftermath of an accident, especially one that involves injuries. If you or a loved one has been involved in such an incident, please contact the Bernard Law Group to obtain comprehensive information about your legal rights and options.
IF YOU, OR A LOVED ONE, HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT IN WASHINGTON – CALL TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION!