A car accident can be one of the most traumatizing moments of your life, filling your body with adrenaline and causing you to react in and out of character. Although it may seem impossible to stay calm under the circumstances, it is vital to assess the situation and act carefully. Your actions following the accident are not only impactful to the safety of all involved parties, but can have direct impacts on the outcome of your personal injury claim. With that being said, let’s break down the all most important steps to take after getting into a car accident.
1. Make Sure Everyone is OK & Get to Safety
Your immediate safety is the number one concern after getting into an accident. If you or any of your passengers are injured, it is important to tell the operator so they can dispatch the most appropriate help to the scene. Now, depending on the severity of the crash and the injuries present, you should try your best to get out of the way of any more potential dangers. If your car is causing a hazard where it is positioned, and is still safe to drive, pull it to the side of the road or to the safest location that is out of the way. If your car is not drivable, find the best opportunity to get yourself and your passengers out of the car. In the instance you are too injured or unable to move, try to access a phone or have a bystander and/ or passenger call for help.
2. Call 911
Regardless, if anyone needs urgent medical attention, it is important to make sure police come to the scene. The reason for this being that they will conduct their own investigation and create a Motor Vehicle Crash Investigation Report. This document is extremely important to your case as it is an important tool in determining which party is at fault and provides an unbiased description of the events. Your insurance provider and your personal injury attorney will likely want to see the police accident report before they move forward with your claim and to help aid them with their investigations. Having police vehicles at the scene can also aid the process by directing traffic and making sure all medical personnel have direct access to the scene and no further danger is present.
3. Exchange Insurance Information
Some police departments have their responding officers conduct an Accident Information Exchange Form to give to all parties involved. This form would include the report number issued at the scene, the date, time, and location of the accident, the police agency, name and badge ID of the responding officer, along with the name, address, DOB, license plate, DL number, vehicle type, and corresponding insurance information of each driver involved in the collision. If the officer does not provide this information to you, you have the responsibility of collecting the necessary information on your own. Throughout the process of gathering information it is important to avoid making any statements regarding the cause of the accident or any incriminating affirmations.
4. Collect Evidence
If you are in a safe place, it is recommended to take as many photos of the accident scene as possible. This can include photos of any damages to the involved vehicles, injuries sustained by involved parties, street signs, road markings, and anything indicating the weather conditions. Your attorney will conduct their own investigation, but gathering this ahead of time will help expedite the process. Also, if there are any un-involved parties that saw the accident occur, you should take down their contact information to give to your attorney. Witness statements are an extremely useful piece of evidence. Often, if a statement is given at the scene, it will be included in the police accident report
5. Report The Accident to Your Insurance Company
Although you do not have any legal obligation to inform your insurance carrier of the accident, it is in your best interest to let them know within a reasonable scope of time after the accident. If you fail to do so, it becomes more likely that your claims will be denied under the premises that you were noncompliant with the terms of your policy.
6. Contact Harrell Law Firm
If you have sustained a permanent injury in a car accident in the state of New Jersey, the Harrell Law Firm is here to help you get the full compensation you deserve. Having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side will ensure you do not have to navigate the legal and insurance systems alone. Call us today at 732-749-8800 for a free consultation or fill out the Contact Form online.