According to the Federal Highway Administration, of the over 200 million licensed drivers in the United States, around 77% have been in at least one accident. In a story by News 9, data suggests that the average American will be involved in three to four car accidents throughout their life. And while not all car accidents are severe, far too many results in death, injury, and property damage. Knowing what to do after a motor vehicle accident is crucial to preserving life, liberty, and property. Allow us to outline steps you should take if you or someone you love is involved in a car accident.
You've been in an accident. Breathe. Remember your Post Auto-Accident Guide from Miller Stern Lawyers, LLC...
Step 1: Stop safely.
First, safely stop your vehicle and turn off the ignition. Generally, you only want to move your car again once the police arrive. However, if your vehicle is in an unsafe place (in the way of oncoming traffic or the middle of an unlit roadway, for example), you may want to move it to a safer spot.
Second, once your car is safe, exit your vehicle and proceed to a secure location away from traffic. There, you should assess yourself and your passengers for any injuries. Then, if possible, ask any other parties involved if they are injured. It is essential that you only ask if they are injured. Please, do not discuss anything else with the other party or parties at this time.
Step 2: Call for help.
Dial 911 and report the accident. The dispatcher will likely ask if anyone is injured. If they don't ask, let the dispatcher know so they can send medical assistance. You should report any and all injuries to the police as soon as possible.
Step 3: Locate witnesses and document the accident.
Consider starting to locate witnesses while you're waiting for the police to arrive. Ask for any witnesses' contact information, such as their name, phone number, and address. With permission, you may want to record witness statements. When doing so, keep quiet and let the witness do all the talking.
Also, take pictures. Take pictures of the vehicles, inside and out. Take pictures of the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the surrounding area. Take pictures of the parties involved. Take pictures of any injuries. Take pictures of the weather, the roads, and the traffic. Take photos of everything! It's better to take too many pictures than not enough.
Step 4: Gather information.
If and when the police arrive, ask the officer(s) how you should proceed with gathering the other driver's insurance information. Sometimes, the police may collect the other driver's insurance information to put in the accident report. If that's the case, you should rely on the accident report for details about the other driver(s). In other instances, the police will want the drivers themselves to exchange insurance information. If so, please limit your conversation with the other driver(s) to biographical and insurance information.
Step 5: Contact an attorney.
Consider contacting an attorney. An experienced firm like Miller Stern Lawyers, LLC can help you understand your rights, provide a plan of action, negotiate a settlement, and get you the necessary relief. The reality is that insurance companies will not always have your best interest at heart. An attorney can help you navigate the incredibly complex world of insurance and auto claims and make sure you get the compensation you're entitled to.
And if you follow the above steps, you should have plenty of information to provide an attorney so they can assist you right away!
Step 6: File a report.
As soon as practicable, file a report with your insurance company. Your insurance company is entitled to notice of any accidents. Be sure to keep track of any information your insurer may provide, such as a claim number and the name of the adjuster assigned to your case.
Step 7: Remain quiet.
Whether at the direction of an attorney or otherwise, always keep quiet. From the moment the accident occurs, only speak to your attorney and insurance adjuster about the accident. Do not speak to the other driver's insurance company. If the same company insures you as the other driver, be sure you're only talking with the adjuster handling the claim on your behalf. Again, be especially careful not to give any recorded statements to the other driver's insurance company/adjuster. When exchanging information with the other driver, keep the conversation short. Let the other driver do the talking. Only share insurance information and nothing more. When securing witnesses, let the witnesses do the talking. Don't offer your account or opinions.
Of course, we can only cover some contingencies that may arise. If you have any questions, please call Miller Stern Lawyers LLC at (410) 762-4090 today.