Auto accidents can happen to anyone. You can protect your legal rights by taking the right steps after an accident occurs. The following list summarizes some of the steps you should take if involved in an auto accident.
DO Aid the Injured
If someone is injured, give first aid if you are qualified and call for an ambulance. Remember to make note of the location of the accident before you call for an ambulance. Tell the ambulance dispatcher the name and number of the street as well as the direction in which the cars were traveling at the time of the accident.
DO Stop Your Car
If your car is involved in an accident and you don’t stop, you may be subject to criminal charges. Leave your car as close as possible to the place of impact without blocking traffic. To avoid additional collisions, raise the hood of your car and put your hazard warning lights on. If the accident occurs at night, place flares or reflectors on the road.
DO Call the Police
A police report of the accident will aid your insurance claim and any liability claims. Note the officer’s name and badge number, and ask the officer how to obtain a copy of the accident report. If you do receive a traffic ticket, it does not mean you are guilty of a traffic offense or that you are responsible for the accident. Pleading guilty though, could very well hurt your claim for damages from the other driver. Consult your lawyer and insurance agent before pleading guilty to any traffic offense.
DO Exchange Information with the Other Driver
Exchange information with the driver of the other car. You should get the following information: * Other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, name of insurance company and policy number. * Passenger’s name, address and phone number. * Witnesses’ name, address and phone number. * Owner’s (if not the driver) name, address, phone number, insurance company and policy number.
DO Get Medical Attention Right Away
Even if you feel O.K., the longer you delay seeing a doctor, the less documentation you have of your accident. It is best to go straight to the emergency room. It is likely that even if you don’t hurt at the scene, you will begin to “stiffen up” within an hour or two after the accident. It’s never a bad idea to be checked out by medical professionals because it’s better to be safe, than sorry…..
DO Notify Your Insurance Agent
Call your insurance agent as soon as possible after an accident. If you delay, your insurance company may have grounds to deny you coverage. Follow up the phone call with a written notice that should contain information about the date, time and place of the accident, with names and addresses of the other drivers, injured persons, passengers, and witnesses. If you were at fault, your liability insurance should pay for any injuries or property damages. If the other driver is at fault but does not have insurance, your insurance may pay for damages to your car (collision coverage), your medical expenses (medical payment coverage) and even for your pain and suffering (if you have uninsured motorist coverage).
DO Call Your Lawyer
Most lawyers offer a free consultation so you have nothing to lose by calling your lawyer first. Remember: the insurance companies have thousands of lawyers working to protect them so make sure you have an attorney working to protect YOU! If you don’t have a lawyer, you may call me (Jim Reed) at 1-800-ZIFFLAW or E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to speak with you right away. Your lawyer can best advise you about your rights and responsibilities. Because witnesses may forget the details of the accident, the sooner you get the assistance of a lawyer, the better. Your lawyer can counsel you on how to respond to questions from insurance adjusters and help you recover compensation for your personal injuries and damages to your car.
DO NOT Admit Responsibility for the Accident
Do not admit responsibility, either at the scene of the accident, or with the police or others involved. If there is litigation, things you say may be used against you. Although you may think the accident was your fault, you may find out later that the other driver was actually to blame, or you were both equally at fault. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be truthful with the police about the FACTS of your accident– you just should not offer your OPINION that the accident was your fault.
DO NOT Give a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The insurance company is sure to be in contact with you soon after the accident regarding the property damage to your vehicle. That does not give them the right to ask you detailed questions about your injuries. It is best not to speak to them at all regarding your injuries until you seek the advice of an attorney who concentrates on personal injury.
DO NOT Take Money for Your Injuries or Settle Until You Have Finished Treatment
Insurance companies may try to offer you money for your injuries right away. The full extent of your injuries may not be apparent for weeks or months. Once you settle for your injuries, you can’t get any more money, no matter what they say.