What to do if you've been involved in a car accident
If you are involved in a car accident, you may have many questions about your rights and the steps you should take. Below are some important steps that may help safeguard your legal rights.
1. Don’t leave the scene of the accident
Stay at the scene of the accident with your vehicle. The general rule is that if you leave the scene of an accident before it is appropriate to do so, you can face serious criminal penalties and may compromise your personal injury claim. However, feel free to move the vehicle to a safer nearby location, such as the shoulder of a road, once you have taken any necessary photos and assessed the situation. Additionally, if you are in fear of the other driver or in danger, call the police and make your best judgment about exiting the vehicle.
2. Check on all involved parties and exchange information
Be sure to get the contact information and insurance information of any other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. Be polite, but do not apologize or otherwise assume fault or blame.
3. Do not admit fault
While it may be difficult, do not apologize or otherwise admit fault to the police officer, the other driver, witnesses, passengers, or your insurance company. Provide only a detailed statement of what occurred to the police without assuming blame. Do not provide a recorded statement to the insurance company without first seeking legal advice from an attorney.
It is very helpful to take pictures of the vehicles involved, any injuries you sustained, any damage to the vehicles involved, tire or tread marks in the road, and general pictures of the intersection or location of the accident, including stop lights or stop signs if relevant.
It is important to get the contact information of any witnesses if possible.
6. Call the Police
It is appropriate to call the police if there is significant property damage, any physical injury, or a dispute as to the cause of the incident. The police are required to file a report of the accident if the accident involved death, injury, or property loss greater than $1,500.
7. Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, see a doctor immediately. Follow your doctor’s advice and seek regular follow up care. Make sure to keep track of all medical treatment. Have a folder where you put all of your receipts, prescriptions, copayment receipts, letters from doctors or the hospital, or doctors’ notes.
8. Journal and Note-keeping
It may be helpful to use a pocket calendar to mark all the days you had to attend a doctor’s appointment or physical therapy. You can also use this calendar to keep track of any days you miss work or other lost wages. You should also keep a journal or notebook with frequent updates about your condition, your treatment, your recovery, and your injuries. Include information like how much pain you are experiencing and any inconveniences or adjustments you have to make due to your injuries.
Be sure that you do not accept any settlement while you are still in treatment. Until you are fully recovered or you have a diagnosis that you will not have a full recovery, there is no way to know the true and full cost of your medical treatments.
It is in your best interest to talk to an attorney before accepting any settlement offer or otherwise resolving any of your personal injury claims.
The attorneys of Schempf & Ware are experienced and available to provide you with the information, tools, and advocacy you need to pursue your personal injury claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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