Everything is going great and then . . . bam . . . you’re involved in a collision that isn’t even your fault! You were minding your own business, obeying all the traffic laws, and even trying to anticipate how other vehicles were maneuvering. But, now, you are going to spend time and money trying to recover for your injuries and property damage. A torrent of thoughts race through your mind and adrenaline courses through your body for hours . . . or days . . . after a collision. We know it is a harrowing experience.
So, what can you do immediately after a collision? This is the advice that I share with family and friends based on 30 years of working on both sides of auto accident cases. While it isn’t rocket science, it will help you to be prepared and make the best decisions possible when everything may seem out of control.
- Stay calm. If you're able, get out of traffic and move as far off the roadway as possible, but stay at the scene of the accident. Take deep breaths, accept help from bystanders, and ask any witnesses to wait for the police.
- Make sure you and your passengers are okay. Warn oncoming traffic by activating your hazard warning lights if possible and find a safe place to wait for help to arrive.
- Call the police. Call 911 or the appropriate emergency number to report the accident. It is incredibly important for a law enforcement office to make an accident report. It will be an essential tool when dealing with the insurance agencies afterwards.
- Gather information and witnesses. If you are able, collect your driver's license, registration card, and auto insurance card as well as the license plate number of the other vehicles involved. Provide the police with a description of the other drivers and passengers (sometimes the driver changes positions before the police arrive). Most importantly, remember, witnesses can make or break your case. Get the contact information for any witness.
- Take photos. Once again, if you are able and can do it safely, take photos of the crash scene, the people and vehicles involved, and the license plate(s). Make sure to get all angles of the property damage and any injuries incurred from the impact.
- Do not admit fault. Do not discuss the car accident with anyone other than the police and your attorney.
- Never refuse medical treatment. Never refuse assistance from a paramedic or EMT. You may not realize that you're injured since your adrenaline is elevated in the aftermath of a crash.
I hope you never find yourself in this situation; but, when you do, I want you to be prepared.
You may be able to handle your injury and property damage claim on your own, but I recommend you conference with a personal injury attorney that you trust so that you can get answers to specific questions about your claim. Like Flexner Houser Injury Law
, most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation, and the good decisions you make at the time of the collision will be most helpful in how your claim is handled and, ultimately, resolved.