People often ask what they should do if they are in a car accident. This post explains ten specifics to help make sure things go the best they can. You can protect yourself and your family by following this advice if you are unfortunate enough to end up in a car accident. This expands on our earlier list of ten dos and donts.
1. Stay At The Scene:
Unless you have injuries that call for emergency transport to the hospital don’t leave the scene of an injury accident. Not surprisingly, if you leave the scene there can be criminal charges for being a “hit-and-run” driver. Wait for the police.
2. Make Sure Other People Don’t Need Help-Or Get Them The Help They Need:
The first thing you need to do is check yourself, your passengers and all others involved for injuries If emergency responders are needed call 911 or have a bystander help you do so. Except in the rare instance a person is near a pool of gasoline that you fear may ignite or some other like danger, don’t move any person who is unconscious or complains of neck or back pain. If you must move then stabilize the neck and move them as steadily and slowly while supporting their neck and back.
3. Call the Police:
Under Idaho law,(Code section 49-1305) if an accident involves property damage of more than $1500, or if there is a a physical injury, or death, you must call the police. Don’t forget to get the police report number.
4. Exchange Information:
If the police are called they will usually assist with this but be sure and get the names, phone numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance company and policy numbers of all the drivers.
5. How To Deal With Responsibility Responsibly
Many lawyers advise people to not apologize or admit anything at the scene. But, at least in part, we disagree with that idea. In the long run, if you made a mistake–like if you know you ran a stop sign or pulled out in front a of a person who clearly had the right of way–we believe you will feel better just admitting it and taking personal responsibility. We all know its the right thing to do. BUT, if you don’t know exactly what happened or are unsure then the advice to not admit anything is correct. Sometimes the situation is chaotic or confusing and it might not be evident who was responsible for the collision. So in short, we think the best advice is “don’t admit responsibility unintentionally or unnecessarily but be a human being and good citizen too.”
6. Talk to Witnesses
As noted, get the names, telephone numbers or addresses, of witnesses if you can. Also, write down (or record on your smart phone etc.) what they say. You can also just simply get their name and phone number so that you or your attorney can contact them later.
7. Call Your Car Insurance Company
Report the collision to your insurance company as soon as you can after the accident. Because its “your” insurance company it has some obligations to you. You should reasonably cooperate with your insurance company and tell them the truth about what happened and the extent of your injuries. BUT be sure that you don’t understate your injuries–or exaggerate them. Quite often maybe even a majority of the time it takes at least a day or two to realize what problems are showing up. The adrenaline, endorphins and other parts of your physiological reaction can mask your injuries. And, if the insurance company decides you have lied to them about anything, you can have real problems later.
8. Be Careful with The Other Drivers’ Insurance Company
Inevitably the other Insurance company will want to take your statement. We have a whole post on issues related to recorded statements. But in short, just be sure you understand that the other driver’s insurance company is not there to help you no matter how they act. Its real goal is to a pay as a little money as possible and to help the other driver involved. The other insurance company really wants to get information that it can use against you. Our basic recommendation is don’t talk to the other insurance company until you have a lawyer representing you.
9. Make a Record–Take Pictures
Be sure and take pictures of all damage to your car– at the scene if possible. Again cellphone cameras can be great for this. And, if you have visible injuries–cuts scrapes bruises, etc– take pictures of those injuries as well. This type of documentation can be very useful to you and your attorney if you choose to hire one.
10. Keep Track Your Medical Care
We recommend you keep a record of all the hospitals, facilities, doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you go to for care. Keeping a diary list of this data will help when it comes time to prepare appropriate summaries for your insurer and your attorney.
11. Finally–All People Injured in a Collision Should CALL THEIR LAWYER
After a car accident, take advantage of this chance to get free advice from a lawyer you can call or text us at (208) 343-7510. The sooner you talk to a lawyer about your situation the better off you will be. Having legal advice in a legal situation can protect your interests. Issues can arise that will impact your claim and having someone to help guide you can make all the difference in the world. Like most good personal injury lawyers, we often consult with people without charge to provide advice and guidance on protecting themselves from making some mistakes that we often see when people wait before they contact us.
We help people all over Idaho. Call us if you have any questions about your injury claim. The initial consultation and case review is always free.