Every day many drivers are involved in car wrecks, often because of the careless actions of other people. If this happens to you, what should you do? First, don’t panic. Check everyone in your vehicle and the other car(s) to make sure no one is seriously injured. If EMTs are needed, call them – and the police. Make notes of who is injured and what the injuries initially seem to be. Don’t move a seriously injured person unless it’s absolutely necessary for their safety.
If no one is seriously hurt and you can move the vehicles off the road, do so. But first take a few quick pictures of the accident scene. If the vehicles cannot be moved, leave them where they are and start taking pics – lots of images that show vehicle damage, the overall accident scene and any other property damage from the accident.
It’s essential that you start to gather complete information on the other party/parties at the accident scene, such as:
- The other driver’s name and address
- His or her insurance company name and policy information
- Statements and contact information from any witnesses.
This evidence you gather at the scene strengthens your claim that you were the one who was hit. If your car insurance company has a mobile app that can help you document the accident while at the scene, use it. Many insurance providers have apps that have an accident checklist and tell you how to gather information that will aid in filling your claim with your insurer. This evidence also helps defend you should the other driver’s insurer later accuse you of causing the wreck.
The police will typically come to the scene, especially if anyone’s injured. The accident report they create usually determines who is at fault, but only for the purposes of ticketing the driver if he or she broke any traffic ordinances. Independently, insurers determine fault based on all evidence, such as the police report, driver and witness statements, and physical evidence. Although a police report is not necessarily admissible in civil court, if it clearly indicates the driver who hit you is at fault, it gives you strong leverage when trying to reach a fair financial settlement.
Once the accident scene is cleared and the police tell you when you can pick up your copy of the accident report (very important you get a copy ASAP), the next thing you MUST do – if you did not visit the emergency room – is to see your personal physician as quickly as you can get in. Many injuries from car wrecks don’t appear immediately, especially soft tissue injuries of the spine and limbs and some brain injuries. Even if you go to the ER, you should still see your doctor quickly. Emergency treatment is not curative treatment. Seeing your doctor after an ER visit shows you’re taking your recovery seriously, and it is less likely the other insurer will deny an injury claim later.
Know Who to Turn to When an Accident is Not Your Fault
Maybe it turns out you might have been partially at fault. That’s one of many excuses the other driver’s insurance company may use to dispute your claim. Whether you share blame or bear no fault at all, it’s a good idea at this time to at least visit with an accident attorney at the Billy Johnson Law Firm in Pikeville, Kentucky. Initial consultations are free, and you are under no obligation to retain the firm at all. But if something does come up later, we’ll have all the facts and know how best to proceed on your behalf.