WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE IN A CAR ACCIDENT
There are important things to do at the scene of the accident and soon afterward. Below is a list of things to do after an accident, if possible. Keep this information handy by storing it on your phone or printing a copy and keeping it with your registration.
AT THE SCENE
Check on All Drivers and Passengers
Before assessing property damage, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay. Call for medical attention for anyone who needs it. If a person is unconscious or has neck or back pain, don’t move them until qualified medical help arrives, unless there is a hazard that requires moving the person immediately.
Call the Police
If there’s significant property damage, physical injury, or death, you need to call the police. Obtain the names, badge numbers, and police departments of the responding officers. Ask that a police report be filed and get the report number so that it can be picked up once it has been prepared.
Stay at the Scene
Never leave the accident scene until it’s appropriate to do so. If you leave, particularly where someone has sustained injuries or was killed, you can face serious criminal penalties leaving the scene.
Take photographs of all vehicles involved, as soon as possible after the accident. Get as many angles as you can, and if possible, try to include pictures of skid marks and emergency vehicles, if they have responded. Photos can help determine how much you should be compensated for the damage to your car and can help in court. Pictures of your car before the accident can offer a great “compare and contrast” to show the true extent of the damage sustained in the accident.
Talk to Witnesses
Ask every witness what he or she saw. Get their names, numbers, or addresses, if possible. Ask locals if they’ve ever witnessed other accidents in the same place.
Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. It is ok to take photographs of these documents, instead of writing them down. If there are passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses. In talking to other drivers, try to be cordial and cooperative.
Never apologize for anything at the scene. For example, if you say, “I’m so sorry I ran that red light! Is everyone okay?” you may be admitting legal liability for what happened. Immediately after an accident, it might not be clear who was at fault or more at fault. Therefore, try not to admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily.
AFTER THE ACCIDENT
Get Care Soon After The Accident
Delays in seeking care or even short gaps in treatment are among the major reasons insurance companies contest or deny settlement in personal injury cases. Even though symptoms may not appear immediately, insurance adjustors have used delays of only 2 days before seeking treatment as an excuse for very small settlement offers. Protect yourself and your rights by getting checked out as soon after the accident as you can.
At 1st Care Rehabilitation, we specialize in the treatment of injuries sustained in car accidents and we provide the documentation needed to receive a quick and fair settlement.
Don’t delay. Call for an appointment now. 203-288-7300
Inform Your Insurance Company
Promptly tell your insurance company you’ve been in an accident. Cooperate with them and tell them the truth about what happened and the extent of your injuries. Obtain and review any police report filed, so you can point out who broke what traffic laws or who was at fault.
Get a Property Damage Valuation
Obtain a car damage estimate. Many experts recommend not going through an insurance company recommended shop. They point out that these shops often use non-factory parts, bill a substandard labor rate and fail to include bills for supplemental repairs found after the initial estimate has been written. State law allows you to take you car wherever you wish to get it fixed, no matter which company pays for it. If the other driver’s insurance company accepts liability in the case, it may be wise to have them cover your repairs, as you generally won’t have to pay for a deductable or a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. To do so, contact the other insurance company and speak with their claims department. They will need the information exchanged at the time of the accident. If they indicate they are not accepting liability, it could be an indication that you should speak with a lawyer.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
If anyone was injured in the accident, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you maximize your recovery if you’re injured or better defend yourself if you’re at fault. Many accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means that your lawyer only receives a fee if you’re awarded damages or receive a settlement. Contact an experienced attorney now for a free claim review.
Use Caution in Discussing the Incident
Don’t talk to anyone about the accident other than your lawyer, your insurance company, and the police. Don’t talk to a representative of another insurance company, without the knowledge of your attorney or insurer. If called by the other insurance company, be polite, but ask them to call your attorney or insurer to arrange an interview. Also, tell your lawyer or insurer about the call.
Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers
Be careful if you’re offered a settlement from an insurance company. Confirm all your physical injuries have been treated. Some injuries don’t show up or reach their greatest level of discomfort until many days, weeks, or months later. Don’t settle a claim until you know you’ll be compensated for all your injuries, and consult an attorney before signing any settlement documents.
Write Things Down
Note any doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, or other medical professionals that you receive treatment from, and each medical provider that referred you to other caregivers. Keep a detailed account of the treatments or medications you receive, and save receipts or prescription forms.
Write down days missed from work (including overtime), routine activities you couldn’t participate in, aches, pains or headaches, as well as their severity and duration. Document expenses, such as mileage to and from the doctor’s office or pharmacy, housework that you had to pay for due to the injuries, or over the counter pain remedies. Also, jot down activities that were affected by your injuries, such as exercise routines or family events you couldn’t fully enjoy. These will be used to document your pain and suffering.