Car accidents are stressful situations. Even in a minor crash your adrenaline is pumping from the sudden turn of events. After you've checked for injuries and called the police, follow these five steps to protect yourself.
This does go against human nature, at least for most people. But a simply apology can be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Be cordial and polite to the other driver, but steer clear of conversations regarding who is to blame for the accident. Be sure and wait for the police to take a formal statement. You'll need this for your insurance company and/or your car accident attorney. Write down the name of the officer so it's easier to get a copy of the report. Some police agencies will provide you with an accident report number, which makes it even easier.
Take notes, either written or on a smart phone, tablet or any other electronic recording device. The electronic devices are usually easier to handle under a stressful situation. You can record conversations or just make voice memos to be retrieved later. Keep in mind that the other driver may be doing the same thing, which is why the "don't apologize" point is so important. At the least, get the driver's name, license number, contact information and insurance information. If the driver refuses or has no insurance, don't push it, just wait for the police.
Use your cell phone or a camera to take your own photographs of both vehicles. A video is even better. Include verbal descriptions of the road, traffic and weather conditions. Take a close up video of the accident scene. Take another video from a distance that includes the location of traffic signs, lights and crosswalks. If the roadway is in bad shape, such as having deep potholes or unreadable traffic markings, be sure and video and/or note that as well. Be careful that you don't stray into traffic.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine, it's best to get checked out at a medical facility as soon as possible. Certain injuries, like whiplash, sometimes don't show up until the next day. That's why you see paramedics placing a cervical collar on almost every accident victim, just in case. If an ambulance is on scene, let them check you out, and follow their advice. If you wait, the other driver's attorney and/or insurance company may try and downplay your injuries to insure a smaller settlement.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
You may be hesitant to do this right away, if at all. But, it is in your best interest to at least talk to a personal injury lawyer to see where you stand. You and the other driver may have agreed to work things out on your own, but what if he changes his mind? Or, what if a claims adjuster decides to offer a clearly unfair settlement? Think of it this way, it's an insurance claims adjuster's job to pay out as little money as possible. By consulting an accident attorney, like Hagelgans and Veronis, you are just making sure you are treated fairly.Share