Protect Your Rights – Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If you drive a car, you are at risk of an accident. If you are involved in a crash, it is important to protect your rights and take the right steps immediately afterward. Bungling the post-accident response could interfere with your right to recover for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.
No matter what kind of vehicle you drive, it is important to protect your rights. If you do find yourself in a crash, the following steps can help you preserve your rights and protect your property.
Make Sure No One is Hurt
The most important thing to do after an accident is make sure no one is injured. No matter how severe the property damage, it pales in importance to the physical safety of the driver and passengers. Make sure no one is injured before you do anything else.
Call for Help if Needed
If there are injuries, call 911 and request medical assistance right away. There will be time to document the accident scene and exchange information later. If anyone is injured, you need to get them the help they need and do it without delay.
Get the License Plate Number of the Other Car
After you have attended to any injuries and/or made sure no one is hurt, you will want to write down the license plate number of the other vehicle. It is important to do this as soon as possible, on the off chance the other party tries to flee the scene. Having the license plate number will also be important later on when you contact your insurance company to report the accident.
Get the Driver’s Name and License Number
It is important to get the full legal name of the other driver, and the easiest way to do that is with their driver’s license. Ask the other driver for their license, and provide them with yours. Be sure to write down the full driver’s license number – this is a key piece of information your insurance company will need to start processing the claim.
Take Pictures of the Scene
Documenting the accident scene is essential, so do it without delay. The widespread proliferation of smartphones means that most of us have a camera in our pocket, so photographing the scene should not be difficult. Be sure to take pictures of any road signs, including one-way street markers and other safety signals. The photographs you take should also document the weather conditions – this will help the insurance company reconstruct the accident scene and determine who is at fault.
You will want to gather as much information as you can, from the exact location of the accident to the names of any witnesses. Be careful what you say during the information gathering phase – admitting fault or saying too much could interfere with your rights later on. Your goal at this point is to impartially record what happened – which direction the vehicles were traveling, what time of day the accident occurred and so on.
Exchange Insurance Information
Get out your insurance card and share it with the other driver, and ask the other driver for the same information. Record the name and phone number of the insurance company, along with the policy number and the address of the driver. You will need this information when you submit your claim later on.
Contact Your Insurance Company
It is important to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Even if the accident was the other person’s fault, you are required to report the incident as soon as you can. Use the information you gathered earlier when reporting the claim, including the name of the other driver, the contact information for any witnesses and your best description of what happened.
Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
Even if you do not appear to be injured, it is a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney. Some injuries can take days or even weeks to become apparent, especially back problems and soft tissue damage. Contacting an attorney and having a comprehensive medical exam now can protect your rights later.
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