Even if it’s just a fender-bender, auto accidents can be stressful. Between assessing damages, calling your insurance company, catching a ride home and talking to the police, you could easily spend an entire day on the side of the road. And if you are not careful about your words or actions, you risk incriminating yourself even if you aren’t at fault. As Baltimore auto accident lawyers, we frequently provide advice, counseling and legal representation to persons who’ve suffered physical, mental, property or any other kind of damage as a result of an auto accident. Here are some of the things we recommend you do and don’t do if you find yourself in this situation.
Immediately After the Accident
This list was made assuming that you are not injured seriously enough to be rushed to a hospital.
- Check yourself and the passengers to make sure everyone is well.
- If it’s a fender-bender, move your car to the shoulder to avoid obstructing traffic.
- If the position of your car on the road presents a hazard to other vehicles, set up cones and flares to warn other drivers.
- Call police even if there are no serious injuries to have a record of the accident.
- Exchange information with other involved drivers: names, addresses, license plates, phone numbers and insurance coverage.
- Flag down a few witnesses and get their contact information.
- Take lots of pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle and physical injuries.
- If there is a police officer on the scene, write down his badge number, name, phone and the number of the police report.
On the Day of the Accident
Go to a Doctor
Even if you think you haven’t been injured, still get examined by a doctor. Some injuries may not be obvious and others may not present themselves right away. If you fail to go to a doctor and later decide to seek reimbursement of medical expenses, the insurance company may argue that the treatments you received are not related to the accident, because significant time has passed before you started feeling unwell. A doctor can tell you which symptoms to look for based on the nature of your injuries.
Call Your Maryland Auto Accidents Lawyer
It may seem unnecessary to call your attorney this early on, but you will be glad you did it. An attorney can coach you how to speak with your insurance company, as well as what to say if the other driver’s insurance provider calls. How you handle these conversations is very important, because it may affect the amount of compensation you are awarded. And if down the road you have problems obtaining adequate compensation or defending against a lawsuit filed by the other driver, your personal injury attorney will already be up to speed with your case.
File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
Follow the procedure outlined by your insurance company to file a claim. Your insurance company may also ask you for an official statement regarding the accident. If you spoke with your attorney earlier, you wouldn’t feel caught off guard and would know exactly what to say.
Start a File
Get a binder or a plain manila folder and start collecting all of the documents related to the accident in one place. These documents may include medical bills, auto repair bills and quotes, witness testimonials, etc. This is especially important if you end up suing the other driver for damages. You could even start a diary to document how your injuries have affected your life. Describe when and for how long you had to take off work to go to a doctor. Add information about any activities you are temporarily or no longer able to enjoy due to your injuries.
What NOT to Do
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident—it’s called “hit and run” and you may face serious charges for it.
- Don’t move passengers that appear to have suffered serious injuries—you can make it worse.
- Don’t apologize even if you think it’s your fault—it’s not always clear right away whose fault it is. Leave it to the police and your insurance company to determine.
- Don’t delay filing a claim—insurance companies often have deadlines.
- Don’t sign any settlement papers before you discuss them with your attorney.
And if you need any further assistance getting the auto accident compensation you deserve, contact DRA e-Law today for a consultation.