A car accident can happen in an instant and change your entire life. Victims of car accidents in Minnesota often experience serious, permanent injuries and are left with lasting physical and emotional scars.
You are likely to be in shock immediately following an accident or perhaps feeling confused and overwhelmed. These initial moments after a car accident are crucial so it is important to understand what to do.
Do not flee the scene
Do not leave the scene of the accident. You should remain at the scene until everyone involved leaves or is transported to a hospital for medical treatment.
Safety should come first. Check yourself for injuries and if you are able, check others around you for injuries. Call 911 if anyone appears injured.
Move the vehicles to a safe place and turn on hazard lights to warn approaching vehicles. Do this only if the vehicles can be moved safely. If the vehicles are too badly damaged to be moved, do not touch them.
Call the police
Call the police even if it is a minor accident and file a police report. Obtain the name and badge number of the police officer. The police report could potentially be used as evidence in the future.
Talk with the police about the accident, but do not take responsibility for the accident. Avoid even giving an apology, since that could be viewed as admitting the accident was your fault. Cooperate with the police but provide them only with the information they need to make the report.
Exchange information with everyone else involved in the accident, including witnesses. This includes their name, contact information, license plate information and insurance information.
Since most of us have cameras on us all the time these days, take photos of the accident scene. Document all damage to vehicles, any injuries you sustain, the road, the surrounding area and any other evidence of the accident, such as tire tracks on the road.
It might be hard to remember details of the accident later so write down everything you can remember. Draw a picture of the scene to illustrate exactly how the accident happened. Information provided closer in time to an event is typically viewed as more credible.
Visit a doctor
If you are not transported to a hospital for your injuries, see a doctor as soon as you can after the accident for a thorough checkup. Sometimes injuries become visible in the days or weeks after an accident.
Once you have taken care of yourself and are recovering, contact your insurance company and report the accident.
If you believe the accident was not your fault, a personal injury claim could help you recover compensation for expenses such as medical bills, lost wages and psychological suffering. Personal injury claims in Minnesota are based on negligence. Knowing how to prove negligence is essential to a successful claim.