Car accidents, unfortunately, are a fairly common occurrence in daily life. With the rise of the popularity of smart phones and other communication devices, car accidents have become even more frequent. What should you do if you are in a car accident? It sounds like a simple question, but you might be surprised to know that many people don’t know what to do when a car accident occurs. The information below is merely a guide on what you may want to do if you are involved in a car accident.
Contact the police immediately. If anyone is injured, tell the police, and then give the victim(s) whatever help you can. To avoid injuring them further, try not to move them. If you smell or see leaking gas, call the fire department and clear the area. When the police arrive, always make sure to cooperate with them by giving them the necessary information.
If another driver is involved, exchange information with him or her. You should obtain the other driver’s license number, registration information, insurance agent’s name, insurance company name and contact information, and insurance policy number. Be sure to write down the name, address, and phone number of the driver and any passengers in that vehicle. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses, and the names and badge numbers of police officers. You should photograph the damage to the vehicles, the positions of the vehicles, the roadway or the intersection where the accident occurred, any skid marks or debris on the road from the accident, or any other evidence that might help document what happened. You may want to draw a sketch showing the positions of the vehicles before, during, and after the collision. Keep your vehicle where it is unless it is creating a hazard. If it is creating a hazard, take reasonable steps to get it off the road. Make sure not to put yourself or other people in danger if you do move the vehicle. You might want to set up flares to alert other motorists of the accident, and you should call a tow truck if one is needed. You should document the time of the accident, the weather conditions, road conditions, traffic conditions, the speed of the vehicles involved, the color of the traffic light in your direction (if any) at the time of the accident, and how the collision occurred. The police will complete a report of what happened, and you should ask the investigating police officer how to obtain a copy of the police report. Obtain a copy of it as soon as possible. Police reports usually are available within a few business days after the accident.
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident to them. In a future blog post, I will provide information on what happens after the accident has occurred and how to properly file an insurance claim regarding the accident.
If you are injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you can make a claim against that person for what is called economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages may include things such as expenses and bills that you incurred as a result of the accident as well as lost wages or missed time from work. Non-economic damages may include things such as your pain and suffering, disability and impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life. Typically, such a claim is made through the responsible person’s insurance company under what is called a “bodily injury” or “liability” claim. Oftentimes, the person’s insurance company handles the claim entirely with little or no involvement on the part of the person who caused the accident.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident that someone else caused, feel free to contact me to discuss your situation.