There are more than six million car accidents in the United States each year. Fortunately, most of them only result in property damage, damage to the vehicle as opposed to the occupants. But one in three accidents result in personal injury to the driver or passengers, and out of that number, two out of every ten accidents result in fatal injuries.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your interests. The following is a list of the top ten things you should do if you are in an automobile accident:
A car accident is a traumatic experience that will only get worse if you panic. Your best course of action is to remain calm. The calmer you are, the more able you will be to cognitively process whatever you should do after the accident. Staying calm will also help you remember the details in case you need to call a Philadelphia car accident attorney.
If you have passengers, especially young children, they are likely to take your cues in an appropriate way to react to you. The calmer you are, the more likely they are to remain calm. Everyone needs to remain calm, so that they can communicate coherently with other accident victims as well as emergency responders.
Protect the scene
You can prevent further accidents by installing flares or keeping your flashers on. If it’s dark and your lights don’t work, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe in your disabled car or while you wait on the side of the road.
Call Law Enforcement
You should call law enforcement to investigate the accident site and take statements from everyone involved as well as any witnesses who may be standing nearby. The responding officer will document the scene with photographs, diagrams and statements of people at the scene. These reports are then made available to drivers for filing insurance claims and for any future legal action that may be taken. Calling law enforcement helps eliminate some of the factors it says of accident claims.
If your vehicle has a camera, or a cell phone equipped with a camera, you should take pictures of vehicles if there is visible damage. If you get hurt, you should take pictures of them too. However, you should not interfere in the ongoing police investigation in any way. If you cannot take photographs at the accident site, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
Exchange Information with Other Driver
Part of the appropriate protocol after an automobile accident is the exchange of information with others involved in the accident. You should exchange the name, telephone number and insurance information with any other driver involved in the accident. You should get accurate information from others involved, depending on the situation where the accident occurs. Exchanging this information will help with any claims you may need to make in the future.
Make an Accurate Record
When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer(s) exactly what happened to the best of your ability. If you don’t know some facts, tell the officer. Do not infer, infer or misrepresent any facts. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say that you are not sure, but no. Often, pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent a few hours after the actual collision. You should also ensure that the statements made by other persons involved in the accident are also accurate.
Contact the Insurance Company
As soon as possible after an automobile accident, you should notify your insurance company of the incident. The status of your insurance claim will depend on several factors. They include:
- Whose fault is it?
- Injuries to the parties involved.
- Coverage for you and the other driver.
- How much damage has been done to the vehicles?
Protect Your Rights
Perhaps the most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult with your attorney. Your lawyer can protect your rights and ensure that valuable evidence is not destroyed. Often insurance companies want to take the statement immediately after the accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before making such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle, to making sure you have the best medical treatment available. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no legal fees until the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.
Seek Medical Attention
Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Most of our customers report feeling the most pain a day or two after an automobile accident. Unless you are absolutely sure that you have not been injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family doctor. Even in minor impact accidents, you can cause serious and permanent injury to your spine. If you have lost consciousness or are briefly dazed after a collision, you may have suffered a head injury or a head injury. If left untreated it can lead to cognitive and behavioral changes.
Keep a File
Keep all documents and information related to your accident together. This information should include the claim number, the claims adjuster handling the claim, the names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for the rental car and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
After a car accident, there are steps you should take to protect yourself from legal action and to prepare if you need to file a case. Contact a Philadelphia car accident attorney to find out what legal implications you may face after a car accident. Here at Morgan & Morgan, we stand ready to answer your questions regarding the accident.