What To Do After An Accident
The first priority is to determine whether anyone is injured and immediately call 911 for police and medical help. After you are safe and have called 911:
Insist a report be filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol. Without a report about what happened, it’s your word against someone else’s. Don’t risk being compensated because someone offers to take care of this his-or-herself.
While law enforcement will likely prepare an Accident Report once they arrive on the scene, you should protect yourself and gather valuable information for yourself. An Accident Report may take several days to be available and you will need information to open your claim with the insurance company right away. Gather and write down as much information listed below as possible:
- Get the names, driver’s license numbers, contact information (at least home address and phone number) and insurance information for all drivers involved in the accident and any witnesses.
- Try to determine if any of the drivers involved in the accident appeared to have been distracted by doing things, such as talking on a cell phone, not looking at the road, texting or looking at a phone, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You should make sure the police officers investigating the accident are aware of whether a driver was distracted in any way.
- Create your own detailed description of the accident, including:
- A diagram of the movement and location of vehicles before and after the accident
- Names of roads on which all the vehicles were traveling
- Weather and related conditions (fog, rain, night, ice)
- What happened to cause the accident
- What injuries were sustained and by whom
- Which vehicles were damaged and how
- What the police did such as issue tickets or give field sobriety tests
Immediately contact the insurance company of the party that caused the accident. A delay in reporting the accident can limit your recovery.
Once you contact the insurance company, don’t sign anything from the insurance adjustor. Even if you have not yet hired an attorney, tell them you will review any document fully before signing it.
See a doctor as soon as possible. If you did not seek treatment at an Emergency Room following the accident, see your regular doctor at least a day or two after the accident. Even if you aren’t sure you have an injury, visit your physician for a check-up. After an accident, you are full of adrenaline and your body may be in shock. Many injuries take time to surface and become noticeable.
Tell your doctor exactly how the injury occurred and describe all your known injuries, symptoms and complaints. Be sure to report memory problems, confusion, or disorientation, however minor these things may seem both immediately after the accident and over time.