We are ALL stunned …
after we get into a car accident. A hundred thoughts are going through our minds. Even if it’s a minor accident, our neck might hurt. Most likely, we are either going to, (or on our way home to), work, school or picking up the kids.
Our first thought is going to be am I hurt? And, how badly? How can I possibly get to where I was supposed to be – and, get there on time?
We definitely need to clear our head and follow the following steps:
STEP ONE: PULL OVER SAFELY – AND CALL 911
Get out of the traffic area. Safely. Turn on Emergency Blinkers.
STEP TWO: EXCHANGE PERSONAL INFORMATION
Get the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, car plate number, where they work, insurance company name, insurance phone number, and policy number of the other party. Try to be civil about it – even if you’re upset at the other driver.
STEP THREE: FILE A POLICE REPORT
In some cities, the police don’t want to be bothered unless there are injured parties. It’s best if they can visit the scene of the accident, so that they can determine who is at fault. You might be surprised. Even if you feel that it’s entirely your fault – you may not be. The police have the experience to determine the truth.
NEVER ADMIT THAT IT’S YOUR FAULT – even if you think that it is.
The best determination can be made by the police at the scene of the accident. Things get murky if it is done later.
If the police are not able to be there – file your own police report, or a report with the DMV, within 72 hours.
STEP FOUR: ONLY ENGAGE IN MINOR CONVERSATION
Do not admit that it’s your fault. Of course, you should not lie.
An evaluation of who was at fault will be determined once all the information has been documented.
Don’t discuss your injuries or the lack of them. If someone asks if you are okay – say something like, “I am really shook up right now and not really able to say whether I’m hurt or not.” (Use your own words.)
Many neck and back injuries don’t show up for a few days. If you say that you’re fine – then that statement can definitely be used against you at a later time. Feel free to ask the other party how they are doing.
STEP FIVE: TAKE PHOTOS OF THE ACCIDENT, THE CARS & THE AREA
Take pictures of your car, the other party’s car, their license plate, the place where the accident actually happened, and any signs that are available. Be sure to take pictures of the front of their car, the back of their car and both sides of their car. I would snap a picture of them as well, if they allow you to.
See if you can find a witness or two that would be willing to give you a statement and their name and phone number. That way, the police and the insurance companies will have eyewitnesses to the accident.
STEP SIX: KEEP A LEVEL HEAD ABOUT YOURSELF
You will probably be disoriented and feel shaky. Be prepared and talk yourself into feeling calm. Accidents happen all the time. Don’t blame yourself. We all make mistakes. That’s exactly why we have auto insurance. Of course, no one likes to USE their auto insurance – but, it’s there for when mistakes happen.
The important thing is to get the other persons information. Nothing can be resolved without that info.
It’s critical to call an attorney as soon as possible. Have the attorney’s number in your cell phone under “Important Phone Numbers”. Call especially … if there are personal injuries.
Auto insurance companies are out to protect their bottom line. We cannot blame them for that. They often strike a deal between the two insurance companies – which may or may not be in your best interest.
Your own personal attorney is there to go to bat for you.
Your Personal Injury Attorney Will Go To Bat For you.