Statistically, those of you who drive a vehicle will be involved in a car accident during your lifetime. 10.9 million vehicle accidents occurred in 2016 alone. While the idea of possibly being involved in an accident is unpleasant, knowing what to do in the event of a collision will prevent you incurring added stress. The following are seven simple steps to take in the event of a car accident.
1. Safety - Before worrying about insurance or damage to the vehicle, check that you and your passengers are all okay. Switch on your hazard lights to warn other drivers. Do not leave the scene of the collision, but move away from the roadway and oncoming traffic if you can do so safely.
2. Exchange Information - After everyone is accounted for, exchange information with other drivers or witnesses involved in the accident. Names, phone numbers, addresses, and license plate numbers will be useful. Take note of the makes, models, colors, or other distinguishing characteristics of the vehicles involved in the accident. Ask the drivers involved to exchange insurance information. Be sure to take down insurance company names and policy numbers.
3. Call the Police – Always call the police, especially if there was damage to your vehicle or injuries were sustained. Often signs of these injuries are not apparent at the time of the accident, but emerge within a few days.
4. Interview Witnesses - Record accounts of the accidents immediately or soon after the collision. Memories of such events fade quickly, and might be recalled in error at a later date. Witnesses' comments might not be as useful if not taken down right away.
5. Take Pictures - If you can safely do so, photograph the scene of the accident and the damage to the vehicles before moving them. If applicable, note the color of the traffic light at the time of the collision. Also, remember that anything you say following the accident is considered admissible, meaning it can be used as evidence; be sure you provide accurate information.
6. Medical Attention - Whether or not you experience symptoms right away, seek medical attention immediately after the accident. Symptoms of whiplash or other soft tissue injuries often do not emerge until days or sometimes weeks after a collision. Securing a diagnosis soon after the accident will not only ensure the treatment is covered, but will also prevent you from aggravating the injury.
7. Police Report - Obtain a copy of the police report (available about 10 days after the accident) to make sure it generally reflects your account of the accident. Even if the report does not coincide with your account, you will need it to file an insurance claim. Contact a low contingency fee personal injury lawyer in Pennsylvania for assistance in filing a claim and obtaining due compensation.