Even the safest drivers should always be prepared for an accident to happen. If you are ever involved in a car accident, follow the steps below.
Take a Breath
You will probably feel shocked, angered or panicked immediately after the accident, but the most important thing is to take a deep breath, stay safe and collect as much information as you can. Pull your car over to a safe spot if possible, and put on your hazard lights. Check to see if everyone is okay, and call 911 for help if anyone is seriously injured. Often the police will not come to the scene unless someone is hurt or you need help figuring out who was at fault. If they do not come and everyone involved can drive away safely, always file a police report.
Although the last thing on your mind is preserving evidence, it is important to collect as much hard evidence as you can to help recreate the scene in the future. Cell phones are a great tool to use to collect evidence. Use the camera feature on your phone to take pictures of the damage from all angles, anything that contributed to the accident, such as road conditions, broken or missing street signs, or debris, and most importantly, the exact location of the vehicles involved in the accident. Take pictures of any injuries caused by the accident if you want to pursue a personal injury claim.
It is very important to write down everything you remember Ė how the accident happened, where you were going, who was with you, the time and weather, specific details of your injuries, how you twisted your arm or banged your knee, and anything you hear a witness say about the accident. Write down the other driverís name, address, phone number, insurance company and policy number, and license plate number, as well as the make, model and color of the driverís car. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses in case the other driver is not honest when reporting details of the accident. Draw a picture of the accident with as many details as possible.
You should never rely only on your memory, as crucial details may be lost. These notes will be especially important weeks or months later when you speak to a doctor or insurance company, or when deciding what to include in a demand for settlement. You could receive compensation for other types of losses as well, such as employment or education, but you will need your notes and documentation to prove these claims.
Insurance companies usually ask you to report injuries immediately after the accident and provide proof of injury within a certain time. Neck or back pain that persists a week or more after the accident may require you to see a chiropractor or other health care professional who can determine the extent of your injuries. Insurance companies may also ask you to attend an independent medical exam.
At the scene and especially during the week following the accident, keep a journal of all pain and discomfort caused, including anxiety, loss of sleep, or small injuries that may not seem important right away but could become important if you demand compensation later or if the pain continues and becomes more severe.
Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer
If you plan to file a claim against the other driver, call an experienced attorney immediately to advise you on what steps to take next and how to create the strongest case possible.
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