The Things To Know If You Are In A Car Accident
Auto accidents are becoming more and more common. Our Maryland personal injury lawyers encourage everyone to be prepared in the event that you become involved in an auto accident. Here are some suggestions as to what you should do immediately following an auto accident. Many of these items will not only help you at the scene of the accident, but also later if you need to make a claim with the insurance company.
• Stay Calm and Move to a Safe Place. Try to stay calm. Take a second to collect yourself and get your bearings. Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. Assess whether you are in a safe place. If you are not in a safe place, but can move to one by driving, or you can exit your vehicle safely, do so. You want to prevent further risk of damage or injury.
• Call 911. Call the police, or make sure someone else has called. This should be done no matter how minor the accident. Why? It is important that your accident be properly documented in the event that you discover injuries or damage later. Remember, you have just had something traumatic occur. You might not feel or see the real damage yet. Some injuries may take days or even weeks to develop. If you have documentation, it may be harder to get compensation for necessary repairs or doctor’s visits.
• Get Medical Treatment. If you have any injuries you can see or feel at the scene of the accident, go to the hospital. The adrenaline in your body at the time of the accident and for hours afterward may prevent you from really feeling the injuries you have suffered. Doctors and nurses are trained to help you assess those injuries and can give you prescriptions for pain killers and muscle relaxants that you may need in the days after the accident. Sometimes you don’t feel the extent of your injuries, especially soft tissue injuries, for days or weeks. Remember, even minor collisions can cause major injuries. Don’t just say you are ok, let a doctor or medical professional help to determine if there are any injuries. If you leave the scene of the accident, see your primary care physician. That individual can help you determine if care is needed.
• Gather information and Take pictures. If you are able to gather information, exchange it with the other driver. Be sure to obtain contact information, name, insurance information, a description of the vehicle, and their license plate number. If the police are there, ask them if they have this information and the police report number, or a copy of the information exchange sheet. You may also want to write down the officer’s name and badge number. The scene of the accident is not the place for you to assume or assign blame. Let the police, insurance companies and lawyers determine that later. Gather what information you can reasonably acquire. Note the time of day, weather conditions, and a description of what happened in the few seconds before the accident as soon as you can after the accident. Take as many notes as you can. If you have a camera phone or camera in your car – take as many pictures as possible. Pictures can be very helpful in illustrating what happened during the accident.
• Witnesses. Check the area for witnesses. Write down their name and contact information as well. Witnesses can be very valuable if your case goes to trial.
• Get Legal Advice. Speak to an attorney. Your attorney will be able to advise you on how to best handle your situation.
• Give a Statement to YOUR Insurance Company only. Your insurance company needs to know about the accident as soon possible. Give then a brief statement of the facts of the accident. If asked about injuries, especially before you have been treated, do not feel like you have to respond. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.
• DO NOT GIVE A STATEMENT TO THE DEFENDANT’S INSURANCE COMPANY. Keep all their correspondence and contact information but don’t speak to them. Whatever you give them now can and will be used against you.
• DO NOT SIGN ANY RELEASES GIVEN TO YOU BY THE DEFENDANT’S INSURANCE COMPANY. Again, whatever you give them now will be used against you. They will order medical and employment records from the time you were born and will invade your privacy.
• Be Prepared. There are a few items you may want to keep in your vehicle to help you accurately record information. Keep a small notebook and writing instrument in the glove compartment also. A first aid kit would be helpful in attending to minor injuries, and road flares will help prevent more collisions at the scene.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, Nagle & Zaller, P.C. can help you by investigating the circumstances of the accident, determining who is legally at fault for the accident and aggressively pursuing the compensation you deserve for your injuries and your pain and suffering.