7 Things to Do if You’re Involved in a Car Accident
May 16, 2017
According to the National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration, car accidents happen every minute of the day, and 5.25 million times per year. Too often, these accidents are either not reported, or the individuals involved don’t take the appropriate post-collision measures — both of which can create even more issues (legally and personally) than the accident itself. So, if you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of a car accident, follow these seven steps to ensure you are best protected:
1) Keep calm and assess the situation
Car accidents are overwhelming. Remember to remain calm, and don’t make a bad situation worse by acting without thinking. Pull your vehicle to the shoulder, or somewhere out of harm’s way. Don’t get out of your vehicle on a busy highway to inspect the damage without first securing yourself and your occupants in a safe area.
2) Call the police immediately — even if the accident is minor
Police officers are here to help you, especially when you’ve just been involved in a car accident. When the police arrive, be sure to tell the officer(s) exactly what happened to the best of your ability. They’ll make a report of the incident and take statements from all individuals involved. If you’re unable to make a statement, or if the report includes inaccurate or incomplete information, you can supplement a police report later. If you don’t report an accident, it could come back to haunt you later.
3) Take photos and exchange information
Be sure to photograph the accident, including any and all vehicles involved. If you have any visible injuries, photograph them, as well. Once photos have been taken, exchange insurance information — making sure to record the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident (drivers and passengers alike). Usually, police officers obtain this information, but it’s always helpful to have it on hand in case anything is misunderstood or lost in the mix.
4) Tell the responding officer if you are injured or in pain — in any way
It is vital to inform the attending police of any pain or discomfort you may feel, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Sometimes, the adrenaline rush after an accident is so consuming it masks afflictions. But it’s crucial to be aware of your physical well-being, so that you can both report it and receive medical attention when the accident occurs, instead of after the fact.
5) Go to an emergency room
If you are experiencing any physical pain go to an emergency room immediately, so these issues can be recorded and later associated with the accident. Don’t be a hero and think your pain or discomfort will go away — insurance companies often argue that the accident was so insignificant, an emergency room visit wasn’t necessary after the accident, or they may claim that an injury existed before the accident. It’s important that your physical state is documented after an accident to secure any settlement you may be entitled to in the event you sustained an injury.
6) Follow up with your doctor in a timely way
As soon as you can, follow up with a physician for any continuing physical complaints post-accident. A physician will be able to explain specific details of your injuries, which will be helpful both for your physical and mental well-being, as well as in the courtroom (if your case ends up there).
7) Protect your rights
Perhaps the most important step to take after a car accident is to contact an experienced personal injury Attorney. An attorney specializing in personal injury cases can provide you with specific details on how to proceed — who you should speak with and more importantly, who you should not speak with (hint: a potential representative of a defendant). Be sure you have the police report and a copy of your auto insurance policy available for your attorney to review.
There are experienced personal injury attorneys at Post Polak who specialize in a variety of personal injury cases, including car accidents. Mitchell Portnoi (recently certified by the Supreme Court of NJ as a Civil Trial Attorney) and David Epstein each have over 30 years of diversified practice area experience and success in litigating personal injury cases — and would be happy to help at any time. It is always free to call (973-228-9900) for more information, and you won’t have to pay any fees unless compensation is received from your case.
We’re here to protect and serve you — we know your rights, and we want you to know them, too.