By Jim Merritt, Attorney at Law
No one plans to be in an auto accident, but thousands of people are in car crashes every day. If you are unlucky enough to be in an auto accident, there are some things you must do at the accident scene and after you return home. The auto accident attorneys at Merritt Webb hope this “to-do list” helps.
At the Accident Scene
- If you are able, call 9-1-1 and report the accident. The safety and well-being of all those involved in the accident naturally takes precedence over everything else! Make sure the police dispatcher is aware of possible injuries and that an ambulance might be necessary.
- If you are physically able you should try to get someone to take pictures of the accident scene to assist if an investigation is later needed. If no one is available to take pictures and you can do so without further injuring yourself or exposing yourself to danger, take the photos yourself.
- If you are able and can do so safely, move the cars out of traffic.
- If you are physically able or, if you cannot, have someone else write down or at least obtain the name, address and several phone numbers of any and all witnesses.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver(s) involved.
- Answer all questions from the police officer responding to the accident. Do not admit fault. The reason you should not admit fault is that you may be in shock and may not be thinking clearly. Do ask the officer how you can get a copy of the report.
- If your vehicle is towed, take all your personal property out (remember your garage door opener!).
After the Accident – At Home
Sometimes people do not recognize that they are injured until hours or a day or two after the accident. If you begin to feel poorly, go to the emergency room and get checked out. Here are some other things you’ll need to do after you get home:
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Jot down your notes and recollections about the accident and store your notes and any photos you took of the crash.
- If the doctor has told you to stay home, call your employer.
- If an insurance adjuster from the other person’s insurance company calls, do not agree to give a recorded statement and do NOT sign a settlement until you are 100% sure you will not have additional accident-related expenses.
Fortunately, the majority of auto accidents do not result in injury, but if you were injured in the accident, you may wish to contact an auto accident attorney to ensure your rights are protected.