Involved in an accident?
If you are involved in a vehicle accident that results in injuries or property damage, follow these steps:
1. If someone is injured, call or have someone else call 911 immediately.
2. Move the vehicles out of the danger zone, if it can be done safely. Though you must try to preserve the accident scene for police investigation, vehicles should not be left in a dangerous position if they can be moved, nor should passengers remain in such vehicles. Make every effort to prevent further accidents. You may be liable for damages to approaching vehicles unless they are properly warned. If the highway is obstructed at night, have someone with a flashlight warn approaching motorists. Set out flares and reflectors if available.
3. Call traffic officials. Request the presence of a police officer or highway official and briefly give the basic facts of the accident. An official report may help you later if a liability claim is made.
4. Exchange information with other drivers. Give your name and address and show your driver’s license and insurance identification card to the person who is injured or whose property is damaged, or to a police officer. Obtain the names and addresses of all other drivers involved, along with the names and addresses of all passengers. Also note the ownership, license number, year, and make of all vehicles involved in the accident. If possible, obtain the names of the insurance companies and the policy numbers covering the other vehicles in the accident.
5. Locate witnesses. Get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of as many witnesses as possible. Witnesses will be a tremendous help in court if liability is in question. If they refuse to identify themselves, jot down the license numbers of their automobiles. Do not discuss the accident with the witnesses. Do not give their names to anyone but the police, your attorney, or your insurance company. Remember to get the name and badge number of any police officials who appear on the scene.
6. Write down the details of the accident. Write down the details of the accident as soon as you can, including the date and time, the road conditions, the weather conditions, and the approximate speed of all other cars involved. It also is a good idea to draw a diagram of the accident showing the position and direction of the cars just prior to and after the accident.
7. Call your insurance company representative immediately after the accident. If you fail to notify your insurance company of the accident within a reasonable time, this could be grounds for the company’s denying any obligation to protect your interests in the event a claim is made against you. Also, make sure your report contains the names of all injured persons (including passengers, pedestrians, and drivers) and the names of all available witnesses.
8. Make no payments, or promises to pay, to any claimant. Refer all persons making claims against you to your insurance company. Immediately send your insurance company all legal papers served on you. If the coverage you have purchased is not adequate to cover the claims made against you, consult your lawyer immediately. Remember, you may have insurance coverage under more than one policy.
9. See a doctor as soon as possible, if you think you may be injured. Potentially serious and costly injuries may seem minor or non-existent at first.
10. If you have any questions about your right to sue for either personal injury or property damage, consult our firm.