Car accidents are not unique, they happen every day across the state. The first few moments after an accident can be stressful. There is so much happening, that it is difficult to know what to do, but here are the 3 most important things you can do if you are involved in an accident.
1. Stop and call authorities-Exchange Information
If you are involved in a car accident, you must remain at the scene of any accident. This becomes even more important when there are injuries. Call 911 immediately and relay all necessary information with as much detail as you can, so that proper services may be dispatched. Even for small fender benders where there does not appear to be obvious injuries, it is always important to create and file an accident report. In the state of Washington, if there is not over $1000.00 in damages, you do not necessarily need to file a police report. WAC 446-85-010. If law enforcement investigates your accident, you do not need to file an accident report. However, if not, you must file a report within 4 days of the accident.
Trade information with everyone involved in the accident. Be sure to exchange the following:
- Name, address, phone numbers of all drivers
- Name, address, phone number of all passengers or witnesses
- Driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers
- Insurance companies of all drivers involved
- Registered owners of all cars
- Year, model, make, etc. of all cars involved
Do not discuss what happened with anyone else but the police. Do not say that it was your fault, and do not make accusations of the other party. These comments may be used against you later. If time and accident conditions allow, take notes about your perception of what happened.
If there are witnesses, ask them to stick around to speak with law enforcement, and at the very least get their contact information so law enforcement can speak with them later. Try and listen to the other party when they speak to law enforcement to make sure the facts aren’t misrepresented.
2. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
See a doctor immediately. When you are involved in a car accident and injuries seem relatively minor, it may be tempting to avoid a trip to the doctor or emergency room. However, this is not a good idea. It’s crucial that you get a full evaluation done within a few days of your accident so you have the evaluation on record. It’s common for people involved in somewhat minor accidents to not notice injury symptoms until a few days, weeks or even months after the accident.
With the exception of serious trauma, most of the common injuries after a car accident do not show up for a while. Getting medical attention quickly isn’t just the best thing for your health; it also strengthens your personal injury claim. If you wait several days or weeks after the accident to seek medical attention, it will be harder to prove that your injuries were the result of the car crash.
Note any doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you receive treatment from, and each medical provider that referred you to other caregivers. Keep a detailed account of the treatments and/or medications you receive. Also, request copies of all medical reports and bills as these help you prove your medical expenses later.
Medical expenses are relatively easy to document, but pain and suffering is trickier to prove. Keep a record of how your injuries have impacted your daily life. Include any missed workdays, list any routine activities you can’t undertake, and describe how the injuries have affected your family life. Keep track of your mileage to and from doctor’s appointments, physical therapy and/or chiropractic visits. All out of pocket expenses are recoverable.
3. Document Everything-pictures, etc.
Take pictures of the accident and subsequent injuries. If it is possible and safe, take pictures of the vehicles in the position they ended up immediately after the collision. This includes pictures of damages to your vehicle, the other party’s vehicle and if there was damage done to any other property. Additionally take pictures of all injuries sustained, whether or not they have required medical treatment.
Taking pictures gives you valuable evidence that you may need later during an insurance claim. This will provide a basis for the claims that you are making and will back up your story. If the other driver is making a claim, it will provide necessary information to prevent false claims being made to take advantage of the accident.
This Blog is made available by Gig Harbor Law for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and Gig Harbor Law. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.