You’ve just been in a car accident! A 12-step guide:
No one is prepared for a car accident because we hope that we are never in one. But accidents do happen and if you find yourself in a car accident in the future, don’t panic! These are the right things to do:
Do not leave the scene
You should never leave the scene of an accident until after a police officer tells you that you are all set. If you leave, especially if someone is injured, you can face serious criminal penalties for being a hit-and-run driver.
Make sure everyone is safe
First and foremost, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay. If someone needs help, find them the help they need. Do not move an unconscious or seriously injured person until qualified medical help arrives, unless a dangerous situation requires it.
Call the Police
You must call the police if there’s property damage, physical injury, or death. Make sure to request a police report be completed, and get all the responding officer’s names and badge numbers.
Take photographs of any damage to your vehicle as soon as possible after the accident. Photos helps your insurance adjuster determine how much you should be compensated for the damage to your car and can help in court. Pictures of your car before the accident can offer a great “compare and contrast” to show the true extent of the damage sustained in the accident.
Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses. In talking to anyone, always be nice and helpful. Be careful, however, with what you say at the scene. Never apologize for anything at the scene you may be admitting liability for what happened.
Speak to Witnesses
Speak to every witness to the accident. Ask them for their names, addresses and phone numbers and get a brief statement of what they saw. If the witnesses are local to the area, ask them if they’ve ever witnessed other accidents in the same place.
Call Your Insurance Company
Review your insurance policy and then call your insurance company to report the accident. Tell you insurance company the details of the accident. Make sure to give an honest and concise account of the accident. Take and keep detailed notes of all conversations with insurance company representatives, and get names, phone numbers, and job titles of people you speak with, including their supervisor’s name.
Get a copy of the Police Report
Obtain and review any police report filed, so you can point out who broke what traffic laws or who was at fault.
Call Walsh Woodard LLC
Our lawyers have significant courtroom experience with proven results so that you can be assured that your case will be personally handled by a lawyer who has the necessary skills to handle your matter effectively. Michael Walsh and Lincoln Woodard are Board Certified Civil Trial Attorneys by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, the only organization approved by the Connecticut Bar Association and Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee to certify attorneys as specialists in civil courtroom trial skills. Having an experienced, reputable attorney to represent you in your lawsuit is important because, while many cases settle before an actual trial, it is the reputation, skills and willingness to go to trial that many times forces insurance companies and defendants into a favorable settlement.
Do not discuss the accident with anyone other than your lawyer
After reporting the accident to the police and your insurance company, don’t talk to anyone about the accident other than your lawyer. Don’t talk to a representative of another insurance company, without the knowledge of your lawyer. If the other insurance company contacts you, be polite, but tell them to call your lawyer to arrange an interview. Also, tell your lawyer about the call.
Keep Track of Your Medical Records and Bills
Make a list of all treating physicians and your appointments with them as well as all medications you are taking because of the accident. Keep copies of all records and statements you receive from the medical providers and insurance company. It is also a good idea to keep a journal of how your accident-related injuries are affecting your day to day life. This can include days of work missed, daily activities you are no longer able to participate in, and the type, location, and amount of pain you are experiencing. 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.
Get a Property Damage Valuation
Ask your insurance company for its damage valuation. If you think that the valuation is too low, you can request (and pay for) two independent repair estimates that you can present to the insurance company to support a higher valuation.