Car Accident Dos and Don'ts
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, the following are some "do's and don'ts" to help protect you or your love one's right to a legal remedy for harm suffered.
Prepare yourself ahead of time by printing out this helpful pamphlet on first steps after an auto accident and storing it in your glove compartment. It has itemized steps you can check off, as well as an area where you can clearly fill out relevant information after a wreck.
- DO seek medical attention before doing anything else.
- DO call the police to the scene of the accident, in appropriate cases.
- DO cooperate with all law enforcement and emergency personnel who respond to the scene.
- DO get the license plate numbers of all other vehicles involved in car accidents and the drivers' names, addresses, telephone numbers, and insurance information.
- DO get the name and address of the animal's owner and any license information if you were injured by an animal bite or attack in the course of the car accident or at another time.
- DO write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses to an accident before the witnesses leave the area where the accident occurred.
- DO contact your car, health, homeowner's or renters, and/or short-term disability insurance companies, as appropriate.
- DO take photographs of all of the following, as applicable, as soon as possible after the accident:
- The scene of the accident, from all angles.
- The surrounding area.
- The product or animal that caused your injuries.
- Your injuries, including taking pictures over the time it takes your injuries to heal.
- Any property damage.
- DO keep track of all work missed because of the accident and follow-up medical appointments, all medical treatment received, and how you felt physically and emotionally because of your injuries.
- DO get a property damage valuation from your insurance company or from two independent shops if you aren’t satisfied with how your insurance company has valued the damage to your car.
- DO contact your attorney. If you don’t have an attorney or your attorney is unable to take car accident cases, contact a qualified attorney in your area. For more on hiring a car accident attorney, read this article.
- DON'T move your vehicle after an automobile accident unless necessary for safety or required by law.
- DON'T put yourself at risk of being further injury by standing or waiting in an area with traffic or other safety hazards.
- DON'T leave the scene of an accident until the police tell you it’s okay to do so.
- DON'T throw away any potential evidence in the case, such as defective products, torn or bloodstained clothing, or car parts that came off the car during the accident.
- DON'T remain in a burning car or building while calling for help. Leave the area of danger first, and then immediately call 911 from a safe place.
- DON'T engage in discussions about who was at fault in the accident with anyone, and make sure you don't apologize for anything - it can be considered evidence that you were legally at fault.
- DON'T agree to settlement terms without contacting your attorney and having him or her review the settlement offer.
Next Step: Contacting an Attorney
While these tips will get you started in the right direction, it's always a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney, especially if a serious injury is involved. Car accident cases are often complicated, and will typically require witnesses, medical evidence, and a detailed knowledge of negligence law to succeed. A car accident attorney will be able to help you with each aspect of your case. A great first step is to contact an experienced car accident attorney for a free claim evaluation.