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What to do if you have been in an accident

Updated on February 24, 2010

What To Do If You Have Been In An Accident

According to recent statistics, four people die every hour in a vehicle crash in the United States. That means that during the time it takes you to read this article, someone, somewhere has died in a vehicle crash. It’s a very sobering thought isn’t it? In addition to the number of deaths caused by vehicular accidents, an additional 3 million people are injured each year. We all hope that we don’t become one of the statistics, but what do we do if we find ourselves the victim of a vehicular accident? While every accident scenario is different, and every state's accident laws are a little different, there are a few basic things to remember in any accident situation.

  1. If you are on a roadway and are able to move yourself and your vehicle off the roadway safely, do so as soon as possible to avoid further collisions.
  1. If you have a cellular telephone with you, call the police if anyone is injured OR to make a report of the accident.
  1. Exchange information with the other driver’s involved. This may seem like an obvious step, but many people assume that information will be on a police report. While that MAY be the case, it is a good idea to ask for it yourself from everyone involved while you are still at the scene. Attempt to gather a name, address, driver’s license number and insurance information.
  1. Check for witnesses to the collision and gather their information. Again, many people assume that the police will speak to witnesses. They may - or they may not. If you have the opportunity to gather witness information yourself, it is generally a good idea to do so before you leave the scene.
  1. If you were not transported to the hospital via ambulance, go directly there on your own or at least to your family doctor to be checked for injuries. The affects of a collision are often not felt immediately and many internal injuries show no outward signs. Even if you think you suffered no injuries, have yourself checked out within 24 hours just to be sure. Odds are that by the next morning you will be feeling the impact of the crash anyway! Additionally, if it turns out later that you have suffered an injury and you did not go directly to a medical provider, you have made your attorney’s job more difficult as he or she must show that your injuries are a result of the accident.
  1. Follow ALL advice of your medical providers. Keep follow-up appointments and complete diagnostic tests. Again, injuries may not be obvious or may not show up immediately.
  1. Document all time lost at work and get at least two estimates for the damages to your vehicle.
  1. Do NOT speak to the other driver’s insurance company without speaking to an attorney first. You may believe that it was clearly the other person’s fault, but remember that the job of the insurance company employee is to limit the amount of claims or avoid paying them altogether.

The details of your vehicle accident are unique and there may be additional steps necessary for you to protect yourself and your rights.

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