Unfortunately, most of us will experience an automobile accident at some point in our lives. When you have been involved in a car accident, knowing what you should and should not do can save you time, energy and worry.
Stay at The Scene: If you are involved in an accident involving injury or substantial damage to property, call the police to report the accident and stay at the accident scene until the police tell you that you can leave.
Obtain Information: In any accident, you should obtain the following information about:
The other driver: Name, address, driver’s license number, insurance information, and license plate number.
Witnesses: Names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
Police officers: Ask the police officers who investigate the traffic scene to provide you with the “incident number,” so that you can obtain an accident report. Most officers will provide this information to you, even if you don’t ask.
Do Not Admit Fault: Even if you think you are at fault, do not admit liability. There may be factors you are unaware of that played a role in the accident, resulting in the other driver being at fault.
Do Not Make Statements: Refrain from making any statements to anybody at the accident scene, except for the police. When you speak to the police, tell them only the facts of what happened. Let the officers draw their own conclusion from the facts.
Get Medical Care: If you sustained injuries as a result of your motor vehicle accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Keep in mind that it is possible that the “adrenaline rush” from the accident can mask your symptoms. Play it safe by visiting a doctor – a physical examination may reveal an injury that you do not yet feel. Tell the doctor if you have any loss of memory, headache, blood or fluid in your ears, dizziness, tinnitis (ringing in the ears), disorientation, nausea, confusion, or any other unusual physical or mental feeling. Many people hit their heads, or suffer brain injuries in automobile accidents, and don’t realize that they are injured. Reporting your symptoms to a doctor can rule out the possibility of a concussion or brain injury.
Why do I need a lawyer?
Many people will not take responsibility for their actions, and insurance companies can profit from not providing injury victims with proper compensation. Insurance companies and their lawyers know that most laypeople have no idea what legal rights and remedies they possess.
An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to build your case, how to negotiate your case with an insurance company, and, if necessary, how to take your case to trial. While it is possible to negotiate your claim with an insurance company yourself, insurance companies will typically try to minimize their loss and will attempt to effect the lowest possible settlement. While negotiating with the insurance company, you may unknowingly make statements that will damage your position if you ultimately decide to sue. A lawyer will protect you from such situations and save you time and unnecessary stress.
Written by: Polina Bodner Shapiro, ESQ