An auto accident can happen at any moment- that’s why it’s so important to know what to do, and what NOT to do, if you’re ever involved in one. Here are the steps you should take in order:
The most important thing is to be safe- the moments immediately following an automobile accident can be dangerous, and you should keep in mind where you are. Is it safe to stay put? Or was the accident in the middle of the highway or on a country road’s blind curve? Avoid secondary collisions when possible, and turn off the engine. If you are in pain, particularly if you might have serious neck trauma, avoid moving unless absolutely necessary.
Call the emergency responders, including police and ambulance. If you or anyone else is injured, it’s critical to be checked out right away. It’s also important to make sure that the police are there so that they document and give you a report on the accident.
Get the other driver’s contact and insurance information: You need the negligent driver’s name, phone number, address, insurance company and insurance policy number. If he is on-the-job at the time of the accident, ask for his company’s information or a business card. Find out who owns his vehicle. Ask to see his or her driver’s license information, and write down the license number, date of birth, height and weight and the address, if different from what he/she told you. Even better, to prevent transcription mistakes and to further prove the accident, use the camera to take pictures of the other driver’s license and insurance information.
Take photographs: Using your cell phone, take photographs of the damage to all vehicles, the relative position of the vehicles (before they are moved, if it is safe to do so), and the license plates of all vehicles involved. If you can do so safely, take pictures of the negligent driver and any witnesses (which can help to avoid later claims that “I wasn’t there.”
Witness information: An independent witness is your best chance to prove an automobile accident was not your fault. This is particularly true in lane-change cases and left turn cases, where it might be difficult for a judge to know who was on the right side of the law. If anyone sticks around to help, make sure to get their information, and make sure they give their contact information to the police.
Seek medical attention: Some injuries aren’t obvious. For instance, head or neck injuries often aren’t visible and symptoms may not appear for days. That’s why it’s important to seek the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible.
And finally, do not speak to the insurance companies until you have spoken with a lawyer: We cannot stress this enough!! Insurance companies will ask you trick questions that are meant to incriminate yourself with the hopes of taking the burden of responsibility off of their hands. An experienced lawyer will know all the tricks and will protect your rights. Furthermore, an attorney will be able to remind you of deadlines, and provide invaluable advice as to how you should proceed with your case. Remember, insurance companies are a business, looking to make money. You need an attorney who will stand by your side.
If you have any questions about an automobile accident in Maryland or West Virginia, contact us right away. We’re here to help.