Accidents and injuries happen every day, and we know first-hand what a hectic and frustrating experience it can be. In case you are involved in a car accident, these are the steps you can take to ensure you are protected and can defend your rights fully if there is a dispute over what happened with an insurance company or a lawsuit with the other driver. Sometimes, circumstances such as injuries or weather make the following impossible, and in those cases it is important to reach out to a competent personal injury attorney as soon as possible to assist you.
Step 1: Make Sure Everyone is safe
Before doing anything else, first check to see if you or any of your passengers or the passengers in the other vehicles are injured. Contact emergency personnel as needed. If your vehicles are in a high traffic area or dangerous area, try to move yourself (and your vehicle if possible) out of harm’s way and to ensure other drivers are protected.
Step 2: Document the Accident Scene
Once you have ensured that you are safe and not in immediate danger of further injury, it is critical to document everything that you can about the accident. Your cell phone is a great tool for this. It is important to document the damage, the vehicle positions in the roadway, nearby road signs, debris from the accident, and any skid marks in the roadway. It is likely that you will not know what is important about the accident in the heat of the moment, so it is important to document everything from every angle possible while it is available and before anything is moved.
Step 3: Collect Contact Information and find witnesses
It is also important to gather contact information for not only other drivers, but also any witnesses to the accident. Automobile accidents often turn into “he said, she said” cases because there are no witnesses who actually saw the accident rather than just stopping to help in the aftermath. The most important thing to do is to get their contact information so that you, your insurance adjuster, or your lawyer can reach out to them following the accident to discuss what they saw. Some important facts to establish when interviewing a witness include:
How they came upon the accident;
Whether and how well they could see the accident occur;
The condition of the roadway, including both lighting and weather;
Their observations regarding what each vehicle was doing leading up to the accident;
Their observations of the accident itself, including estimates of speed for each vehicle based upon their own, distances between the vehicles, and any abrupt or sudden actions be any driver
Step 4: Contact a personal injury lawyer
Sometimes, the circumstances of an accident won’t allow you to take these basic protective measures so you’ll still need legal help after your accident. If you have questions about an accident, are dealing with an insurance company, or are a little lost about what to do, please do not hesitate to give us a call. Our consultations are free, and we are ready and able to help.