WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE IN A CAR ACCIDENT
By: chris.placitella @ Mar 24, 2015
If you find yourself in a car accident, there are some important steps you can take to make the insurance and potential litigation processes that will ensue afterwards go more smoothly. Ultimately, consulting with experienced counsel as soon as possible is the best way to cut through the red tape of the insurance industry and to make sure your rights are well protected in the event litigation is necessary.
Here are some simple things to keep in mind:
- STAY CALM: Whether you caused the accident or it was caused by someone else, staying calm is most important. Getting upset or agitated at the other driver will just make matters worse and will not help you get the attention you may need.
- CALL 911: Whether a serious or minor accident, call 911 before you speak to the other driver(s) involved. If medical attention is required, this is crucial. Even if the accident is minor, you will want a police report for your insurance company.
- GET INFORMATION: Calmly, without discussing who hit whom or who was at fault or what happened, ask the other driver(s) for his or her name, address, insurance information (insurance company name, policy number, and phone number), and write down the make, model, and license plate (number and State) of the other vehicle(s) involved. If the other driver(s) will not voluntarily provide such information, wait for the police to arrive and do not engage in any further conversation until they do arrive. If you notice other witnesses in or around the accident scene, see if you can get their names and numbers.
- TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS: If you are able, use your cell phone or a camera to document any vehicle damage and any injuries, as well as the scene of the accident.
- DO NOT ADMIT OR DENY FAULT: Discuss the factual circumstances of the accident only with the police and your insurance company. Do not apologize or admit to or deny anything, even to the police. Just relay the facts of the accident as you recall them. You will need to do the same with your insurance company.
- ACCEPT MEDICAL ASSISTANCE: If you are hurt and the paramedics, police or firefighters ask if you need or want medical assistance, accept it. Let them take you to the hospital to get checked out to make sure you are ok or to get treated immediately if you are injured. Often, the extent of injury from an auto accident is not immediately known to you. Your adrenaline is pumping and your pain threshold is elevated. If one of the emergency responders thinks you need medical attention, listen and accept it. Better to be safe than sorry in this regard.
- CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY: As soon as it is safe, convenient, and feasible to do so, call your insurance company to report the accident. Do not wait more than 24 hours to do this if possible. As when you speak to the first responders or other parties at the accident scene, do not admit or deny fault. Just report the facts of the accident as you recollect them.
- CALL YOUR EMPLOYER: If you are in an accident while in the course and scope of your work or while in a work vehicle, call your employer immediately to notify them of the accident and to inquire about any medical facility or doctor you are to see, workers’ compensation benefits should you be required to miss work for any extended period of time, and what else your employer needs to know.
- CALL AN ATTORNEY: Call us if you are in an accident so we can give you additional important advice and to make sure your rights are properly protected whether you caused the accident or someone else did. The sooner you seek the advice of counsel, the easier the days, weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead will be regarding the aggravation that is sure to follow any car accident. You may reach us at Cohen, Placitella & Roth at 1-215-567-3500.
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