The odds are that the average motorist in this country will be in a crash of some severity about once every 10 years. For your safety and to protect your right to file a personal injury lawsuit, you should know what to do after a vehicle accident.
Prepare to care for yourself and your passengers before an accident occurs. Assume that crashes occur at night, in bad weather and that help will be delayed.
Your vehicle should be equipped with a first aid kit, flashlight, seat belt cutter, window breaker, flares or reflective triangle and an accident report form to document driver information. Have contact information for someone who can assist you with a ride or provide other help. Keep all these items together and easily accessible from the driver’s seat.
After the accident
First, make sure you and your passengers are safe and uninjured. Carefully leave your vehicle in case there is traffic and other immediate hazards. See if the other vehicle’s driver and passengers are injured.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if anyone is hurt. If you can, drive your vehicle to a safe area but do not leave the crash scene.
Staying calm is important. Focus on seeking assistance for any injured individuals and collecting information. Never apologize or admit fault. Arguing or placing blame can also worsen this situation and harm you later.
Your driver’s license, registration and insurance card should be accessible. Exchange information with other drivers including names, telephone numbers, addresses and insurance coverage.
Your phone is a helpful device. Use it to film or photograph the license plates of other vehicles in the accident, its location and vehicle and property damage.
If the police come to the accident, you should record the officers’ names and badge numbers and their report number. Ask for a copy of the police report or the procedures for obtaining it.
Notify your insurance company from the accident. Do not admit fault or responsibility but submit a copy of the accident report with your insurer.
You may need other transportation if your vehicle is towed away. Promptly write down what happened while your memory is fresh.
Consider visiting a doctor immediately even if you think you were uninjured. Doctors can promptly document any injuries. This may be vital proof in a lawsuit.
Doctors should follow up on symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, headache, loss of range of neck motion, neck pain or stiffness, arm tingling or numbness or tenderness in your arms, shoulders, or upper back.
An attorney can help you deal with insurance companies and provide you legal options. They may also pursue your right to seek compensation.