You are enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon car ride with your family, and suddenly your car is struck by a careless driver. As the back of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reads, “DON’T PANIC!” Here are the most important things to do when you are involved in an auto accident if you believe you are not at fault:
- Make sure that everyone involved in the accident, including yourself, is okay. This is important: Do not move your vehicle from the scene unless you are instructed to do so by a police officer, especially if there are injuries involved. You may have heard something about being liable for citation if you “impede the flow of traffic.” This is not the case if there are serious injuries or fatalities. Err on the side of caution. Having diagrams of positions of vehicles can be extremely important in determining fault. So, in general, it is better to not move the vehicle.
- Call 911 to report the accident, regardless of how “minor” it may seem. Having a police report can be very valuable in seeking medical attention or reimbursement for any property damage resulting from the accident.
- Exchange insurance information with the drivers of all other vehicles involved in the accident. This expedites filing claims with the other driver’s insurance and resolving any issues related to the accident. You don’t need to talk to the other driver beyond getting their insurance information, though you will, of course, need to tell the police offer what happened. DO NOT give any sort of statement to an insurance company without a lawyer present. Period.
- If you suffer any injuries, seek medical attention immediately: be it from a physician, or an emergency room. Document whatever injuries you have experienced by reporting them to your attending physician. Be sure to take pictures of damage to your vehicle, and of your injuries, if they are visible. When receiving medical treatment, USE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE, if you have a health insurance provider. Don’t forget to inform the doctor or emergency room that you have been involved in an automobile accident!
- Call a lawyer to represent you in your personal injury claim.