An auto accident is an unsettling experience, but it is important to remain safe and calm even if the situation becomes chaotic. No matter how much activity is happening around you, keep a level head and make sure your rights are protected. Here are seven tips to help you remember what to do if you have an accident.
* Check for Driver and Passenger Injuries: If you are unharmed, check everyone else who was involved in the accident to make sure they are not seriously hurt. Provide assistance where needed and call 911. Do not move people with injuries unless they are in imminent danger.
* Be Cautious in What You Say: After verifying everyone is safe, avoid talking to those involved in the accident. Never admit fault or offer an apology since it may be used against you in the future. Only discuss the details of the accident with a law enforcement official.
* Exchange Insurance and Contact Information: It is customary to exchange insurance and contact information with the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s). Also, try and get the names and addresses of passengers and witnesses if possible.
* Take Pictures: If your mobile phone doesn’t take photos, carry a small camera in your glove box. Pictures can be used as hard evidence, which is very difficult to refute. Take shots of the damaged vehicles, street signs, stop lights, the surrounding area, and other important elements that affected the accident. Also take pictures of any obvious injuries you may have suffered.
* Seek Medical Attention: Many people feel fine after an accident as shock and adrenaline often mask injury symptoms. It takes time for bruises, swelling and other tissue damage to develop, so you may begin to feel the effects of an accident a day, a week or a month after the incident. A doctor’s visit will serve to document the fact that you were injured and can be used as irrefutable medical evidence in any subsequent legal action.
* Inform Your Insurance Company: It is important to inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. A phone number to report claims should be listed on your insurance card. When you talk to a representative or your agent, explain the facts clearly and in detail. Try and get a copy of the police report and make sure the insurance company has all the pertinent information you have collected.
* Consider Hiring an Attorney: If you were injured as a result of another driver’s negligence, it is advisable to contact an experienced accident attorney. Your attorney will help maximize your claim and recover your lost wages and medical expenses. Many attorneys accept personal injury cases on a contingency basis, so you only pay fees if there is a settlement or award for damages.
When you are involved in an accident, it is hard to remain focused. Have a plan committed to memory, and follow a few simple steps to stay safe and protected.
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