1. STOP. If you see or are involved in an automobile collision, or see an accident or injury, stop. Leaving the scene of an accident, even a minor one, without first stopping to see whether there are damages or injuries is required in most states. Leaving the scene of an automobile accident may be criminally prosecuted. Even if you are not involved, you may be a key witness to the incident.
2. CHECK FOR INJURIES. You should not move an injured person unless there is eminent danger. If you are injured, do not move. If necessary, have someone call the 911. If you are unable to call, ensure someone else makes the call to 911, as they will ensure the police and proper emergency personnel respond to the scene.
3. WARN. If possible, turning on hazard lights, raise the hood or trunk of the vehicle or set our flares to notify oncoming traffic to proceed with caution.
4. EXCHANGE INFORMATION. If you are a witness, provide your name and phone number to the police. They will provide it to proper insurance companies. You may or may not provide information to the drivers in the accident. If you are in the accident, you and the other driver need to exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, drivers license numbers, license plate numbers, insurance carriers, policy numbers, and your insurance agent's name and telephone numbers.
5. OTHER WITNESS INFORMATION. Obtain identifying information from any witnesses to the accident, and ask them to provide the same information to the police.
6. TAKE NOTES. Write down as much as you remember about the accident-where and how it occurred, what the road and weather conditions were, the speed limits, if there was a stop sign or stop/caution light, what the lighting conditions were (time of day, were street lights on, etc.), and what the automobiles were doing when the accident happened. You may be required to share these notes with the other party if you enter into litigation.
7. NEVER TAKE THE BLAME. Regardless of who is at fault, do not say anything regarding blame. There may be other factors you are unaware of that may have caused the accident. An admission of guilt may be used against you later on.
8. COOPERATE WITH POLICE. Stay at the accident scene until the police tell you that you can leave. Tell the police only the facts of what happened, and do not assume anything or read any information into the facts. Again, do not acknowledge any responsibility to anyone, including people in your vehicle, the other vehicle, witnesses or police. It is not always simple to determine the legal matter of responsibility or liability. Do provide the police of any injuries and witnesses. The police officer that takes the report should provide you with a business card and the "incident number," so that you can obtain an accident report. If he doesn't offer it, ask for it.
9. CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENT. It is important to notify your insurance agent right away, whether you are at fault or not. There is always a chance the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. Your insurance agent may ask you to provide the notes you have taken, information from the other driver, and police report information. Do not give recorded statements to any insurance company or meet with any insurance agents without consulting your Personal Injury lawyer first.
10. PHOTOGRAPH. Take pictures of the accident scene (even one or two days afterwards, preferably about the same time as the accident-if the accident was at night, also take pictures of the scene during the day). Also, take pictures of your injuries and the damages to your car.
11. CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY. Before filling out any insurance documents, giving recorded statements to any insurance company, or meeting with any insurance company representative, call us. Consultation is extremely important before giving a statement to the other driver's insurance company. Do not sign any check or document from any insurance company without first consulting an experienced Personal Injury attorney. NOTE: ALWAYS be honest with your insurance company. Not doing so may cause your policy to be invalidated.
12. CONSULT A PHYSICIAN ASAP. It is possible that you may not know the full extent of your injuries at the time of the accident. Various injuries may not be evident until some time later. If you do not see a doctor, it is possible to risk aggravating your injury by delaying your treatment. Even trifling soreness may be an indicator of a more significant injury. If there is any chance you may have been injured, it is safer to see a physician as soon as possible to rule out any unseen injuries.
Insurance companies have argued that individuals that fail to see a physician right away have injuries that must have resulted from an event or events that happened after the accident. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to connect unseen injuries to the accident.
Things to look out for and to report are many. They include, but are not limited to things like dizziness, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, nausea, headaches, blood (in any natural bodily opening) or even ringing in your ears.
13. REVIEW. Review the notes you have taken at the accident within a few days. Check to ensure that all important information is included.
14. DOCUMENT. Document every item that has to do with the accident. This means recording or documenting every conversation, every phone call that you have with your Personal Injury attorney, your doctor AND any insurance company in relation to your accident including the date, time and name of the person or people that you spoke to as well as their job titles and their supervisor's names. Keep track of all medical bills and transportation costs, estimated future medical treatment, wages lost due to the accident, and wages that may be lost in the future due to the accident. Your Personal Injury lawyer will also review with you the effect the accident had on your life and your family. Your Personal Injury lawyer will also help you identify any other possible losses that may be associated to your accident.
DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at our firm web site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. It is recommended that you should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
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