What to Do If You Are in a Car Accident
Our Louisville Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
Being involved in any motor vehicle accident—major or minor—is a frightening experience. However, in the immediate and ongoing aftermath of the accident, there are a few key things you should do for your own safety and well-being, as well as to ensure your rights are protected.
Read on to learn more about what to do if you are in a car accident and, if you’d like to speak to an attorney about the specifics of your case, contact Charles W. Miller & Associates today. We offer free initial consultations for all new and prospective clients.
Immediately after the Accident
If you are involved in an automobile collision, it is important that you do not to leave the scene without first stopping to ensure that no one was injured and the vehicles in the accident were not damaged. In Kentucky and Indiana, a person involved in an automobile accident may be held criminally liable for leaving the scene of an accident.
It is also important to check yourself and everyone else involved to see if there are any injuries. If someone appears to be injured, you should not move them (if possible) and instead immediately call for an ambulance and call the police. The police need to make an accident report for any accidents resulting in injuries or property damage. This is a crucial step in protecting your rights to a claim later on. When contacting the ambulance and police, you should give them as much information as possible so that the proper teams and equipment can be sent to the scene.
If the vehicles involved in the accident are still on the road, you should try to notify oncoming traffic of the accident so that they can proceed with caution. This can be done by setting out flares if available, turning hazard lights on, and even raising the hood of the car so that oncoming traffic can see that the vehicles are stalled.
Whether or not police are called to the scene, all parties to the accident should exchange all the pertinent information, including:
- Phone numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- License plate numbers
- The name and policy number for their insurance carrier
- The name and contact information for the insurance agent, if known
If any witnesses to the accident are present, obtain their contact information as well.
If you are able to do so, it is also helpful to take notes on the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident, including:
- Where the accident occurred
- What caused the accident
- The road conditions at the time of the accident
- The speed limit
- What traffic signs or lights are nearby
- The weather and time of day (including how light it is outside)
- Any statements that the other driver or any witnesses made
It is important to note, however, that should your case proceed to litigation, you may be required to provide a copy of these notes to the other party.
It is also important to remember that if you believe that the accident may have been partly your fault, you should not say so. After reviewing all the factors involved in the accident, it may be determined that the other driver or other factors caused or contributed to the accident. An admission of fault could and likely will be used against you later on if you proceed with filing a claim. Liability in car accidents is a legal matter which can be hard to determine. Therefore, it is best to not make any admissions when the accident occurs so that a complete investigation can be done first.
When the Police Arrive
It is important to corporate with the police upon their arrival and remain at the scene of the accident until you are informed by the police that it is alright for you to leave. When speaking with the police, you should only state the facts surrounding the accident. You should not make any conclusions or admit any fault. If a police officer is called to the scene, it is important to ask for their business card and the incident number that has been assigned to the wreck so that you can later obtain the accident report that is being prepared.
Soon after the Accident
It is important to document your injuries and any damage to your vehicle by taking pictures early and often. You should also locate all car insurance policies of every vehicle in your household so that a personal injury attorney at Charles W. Miller & Associates can review them to determine what insurance coverage is available.
You also need to immediately inform your insurance company of the accident. However, you should consult with an attorney before dealing with your insurance company. Read our tips on giving a recorded statement in an auto accident case and the dos and don’ts of dealing with an insurance company before you speak with your insurance adjuster. These dos and don’ts apply to interactions with both your own insurance provider and the at-fault party’s insurance company.
What to Do If You Are Injured
If you are injured, you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible to determine the extent of your injuries, as well as what treatment is necessary. Even if your injuries initially seem minor, you should still be checked. Many people often don’t experience the full pain and problems associated with their injuries until days or even weeks later. Seeing a doctor soon after the accident will prevent delays in treatment that could aggravate your injury.
In addition, insurance companies often argue that delays in treatment indicate that the car accident is not the real cause of the injuries and that the injured must have been caused by some event unrelated to the car accident. The longer the time gap between the accident and the treatment, the harder it is to connect the injuries to the accident.
When you see your doctor, it is important to report any and all symptoms your experience, even if they are not the main source of your pain. While most injured people report back and neck pain to their physician, they may fail to report headaches, confusion/disorientation, loss of memory, dizziness, the presence of blood or fluid in their ear, and nausea. Failure to report these symptoms early on can make it harder to relate these symptoms to the accident later on.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
Once medical treatment is being received, there are some steps that need to be taken to preserve your claim. You should document your losses, including any medical bills or explanation of benefits from your health insurance company that you receive, any expenses you have had to pay for transportation while your vehicle is being repaired, and the amount of any lost wages. A personal injury attorney can help you identify any other additional losses you may have incurred and compensation you may be entitled to. See our Reasons to Hire an Attorney for Your Auto Accident Case page to learn more.
Lastly, if you have not already done so, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Charles W. Miller & Associates offers free, no-obligation consultations.
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