Often, there is no warning. A sudden loud noise, a blurred scene as the vehicle is pushed around, and the instant onset of pain; these are often the first indications to the occupants of a vehicle that an accident has just occurred. Many people are so disoriented by the impact and by the surprise of what just happened that they say or do things that aren’t necessarily in their best interest. There are several things a person can do at the scene of the accident, or can avoid doing, to protect them and improve their claim.
The immediate priority is your health. Are you feeling sharp pain? Is there blood? Did you hit your head? If you or anyone else involved is injured, seek medical attention immediately.
Regardless of injury, it is always a good idea to call the police and get an officer out to the scene. Many times everyone involved is polite and agreeable at the scene, but you just never know whether they will change their story later on. A “he said, she said” situation can be messy and doesn’t always end up as it should in terms of liability. Getting the police involved will assure that the accident scene is documented correctly, and that all necessary information is exchanged between parties. The police will come to the scene and speak with each involved party, issue any citations, assist with the towing of vehicles, and give an Exchange of Information document to all involved.
If an officer is on the way, tell the other driver that you would prefer to wait for him to arrive before speaking with them. It is better to say nothing, than to say the wrong thing.
If able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicles prior to moving them off of the road. Often, people move their vehicles to the side of the road immediately after an accident so as to not impede the flow of traffic. However, if there is any question as to who is at fault or what happened, pictures of the accident scene can assist in answering these questions. Once the accident scene and vehicle damages have been documented, all vehicles should then be moved out of the roadway, if possible.
Once everything has been taken care of at the scene, and the officer has indicated that everyone is free to leave, every person involved should get checked out by a health care professional. If there are no apparent injuries, an appointment can be made to be checked out by your primary care provider at the earliest possible opportunity. In the alternative, most urgent care facilities accept walk-ins. It is important to understand that not all injuries manifest themselves immediately after the accident- most people see an increase in symptoms for approximately two weeks following the accident.
In order to get the claim opened and get the ball rolling, you must give your statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Most of the time, if the claim gets reported properly, the adverse insurance company will contact you within a day or two. Feel free to contact them yourself if you do not hear from them right away. Keep in mind that the adverse insurance company does not have your best interests in mind- it is their job to get you to settle the matter as quickly as possible for as little as possible. Therefore, you should aim to say as little as possible; stick to the facts of the accident and the damage to your vehicle. There is no need to discuss your injuries, and it is best that you do not discuss your injuries or any other matters.
It is at this point that you contact Newton & Hall, Attorneys at Law, PLLC to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys know exactly what to do to assist you throughout this process to assure you get the best possible recovery.