No one thinks they are going to be injured in a car accident. However, accidents happen every day and statistics show that nearly all of us will be in a car accident of some kind. Knowing what to do if you are in an accident can help both you as well as your passengers.
Here are some of 9 tips in the event you are in a car accident:
- Immediately call or get help. Almost everyone has a cell phone, so use it! Even if injuries are questionable call 911. Don’t let the other driver tell you not to worry about the accident or your injuries or to not call for help. If any doubt whatsoever call for help.
- Your call for help should be to the police. In most states, as in Wisconsin, you are required by law to report an accident if there has been property damage or injury. Do not simply exchange names, addresses and insurance information and leave the scene if there is any question of property damage or injury. Make sure the police are notified and that they come to the scene of the accident. Do not wait to talk to the police after you leave the scene.
- Be safe. Make sure your vehicle is not in harm’s way that could cause another accident to you or others. It is typically always best to leave your vehicle as is at the scene of the accident but in some rare circumstances it could cause more damage and injuries. In those situations either move your vehicle to the closest, safest place or if you are unable to do so remove yourself from the area to avoid further injury. Immediately notify the authorities so that precautions can be taken to avoid further accidents and injuries to others.
- Get important information from the other driver. If you are able and are not too injured to do so, try to get important information from the other driver such as their name, address and phone number. In Wisconsin, proof of insurance is required to be kept in a motor vehicle so ask for their insurance information. If you can, write this information down and make a note of the color, make and model of their car as well as their license plate. If you have a cell phone with a camera take pictures. Take pictures of the other car, your car, drivers, witnesses, as well as the accident area. Although police will also be looking for this information they sometimes do not get all information. If you see or know of witnesses, get that information as well. Be an advocate for yourself but remember at all times to not cause further injury or other accidents so only get this information when it can be safely accomplished.
- Don’t blame others or accept blame for causing the accident. In some situations, the other driver will be clearly at fault. Blaming that driver at the scene of an accident can start an argument that could escalate and can be of no help. If for some reason you feel you are at fault keep that to yourself. Even if you feel you may have been a partial contributor to causing the accident keep that to yourself. Determining exactly who caused an accident and who was at fault can often times be a complex determination based on a number of things outside of your knowledge. Leave that issue up to the police or an attorney at a later date if necessary. If the other driver admits their fault make a mental note as well as write it down as soon as you are able to do so. Be as precise as you can with the words they use in admitting to causing the accident. This can be beneficial to you especially if you later have to prove a personal injury claim.
- Summarize the events. When you leave the accident scene and are able to do so in a safe and comfortable environment write down what you recall of the accident. Include as much information as you can while it is fresh in your mind. Include the weather conditions, the direction of travel of your vehicle as well as the vehicle that caused the accident. Names and addresses of witnesses and other pertinent information should be written down for later use. It can be extremely beneficial in investigating and maximizing your recovery should you have a personal injury claim.
- Notify your insurance company. Even if you did not cause the accident notify your insurance company immediately. Sometimes, you may have coverage that would be better for you if you were to proceed with your own insurance company. Also, your insurance company has what is called a right of subrogation so they will want to know about the accident so that if they pay any money for your property damage or to you by way of an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim they may have a right to recover that money from the other driver’s insurance company. You should immediately notify your insurance agent when you are safely and able to do so following any motor vehicle accident.
- Document your injuries by photograph. Everyone has heard “a picture is worth a thousand words”. It is very true in car accident claims. Both taking pictures of the scene as well as the damage to your motor vehicle is important. In addition, if you have bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc., keep photographs for later use. Maybe you will not need to use them in the future; however, if you don’t take them you will have no option and when those wounds heal you will have no evidence of what they looked like unless they are photographed. If you cannot take the photograph yourself, have a friend or family member do so. Keep these photographs to give to your lawyer should you retain a personal injury attorney following a car accident.
- You have rights, exercise them! To protect your rights you need to take prompt action after a car accident. As indicated above, determining who caused an accident can be complicated. Getting your medical bills paid and what type of insurance coverage or whose insurance cover applies can also be complicated. You will be contacted by insurance companies either yours, the other drivers or both. They will want to take statements and they will be asking for you to sign authorizations to access your medical records as well as your employment records. Sometimes, that is not in your best interest and it is certainly not in your best interest unless directed by an experienced personal injury attorney. Remember, insurance adjusters are trained to investigate claims. They know what questions to ask, how to ask them and what questions not to ask. You do not have the same training nor should you be expected to know as much about an insurance claim following the car accident as an adjuster. For that reason and to protect your rights you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to answer your questions, protect your rights and help you get what you deserve if you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident.
I have been representing people who have been injured in car, pick-up truck, motorcycle, bicycle, recreational vehicle and semi-truck accidents for more than 27 years. These cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so you do not pay fees or costs unless and until there is a recovery. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident of any type contact me for a no cost, no obligation consultation to discuss your rights and to help you through these difficult situations. Please feel free to contact me in our Madison office at (608) 824-8540, Baraboo office at (608) 356-3961 or statewide at (866) 455-2993. Please feel free to check out our website for more information at https://khtlawyers.com.