No one ever intentionally plans to get in a car accident or get hurt at work. But unfortunately bad things sometimes happen in life. And a person’s response to those situations can sometimes affect what happens from a legal perspective. Also remember that if you travel as part of your job, or if traveling is your job, like in the case of truck drivers, vehicle accidents are often covered under workers’ compensation. Here are some recommended tips to avoid potential legal pitfalls later.
What to do when you’ve been in a car accident:
- Call the police (or 911 if necessary).
- Exchange information with the other driver (name, contact info, driver’s license number, license plate, auto insurance).
- Obtain witnesses: Get names and contact info for any witnesses even if the police have already spoken to that person. If possible, obtain written statements from willing witnesses.
- Gather evidence: Take pictures or videos of the accident scene, the damage to all vehicles, and any noticeable injuries.
- Write notes of the date, time, location, weather, how the accident happened, and any other details that you can remember (speed, traffic signals, turn signals, headlights, brake lights, cell phone usage, etc.).
- Go to your doctor: make sure to tell your doctor how you were injured, and be sure to discuss all injuries, even ones that seem insignificant at that time.
- Contact your insurance company, and report the accident. Your auto insurance will likely pay for at least some of your medical bills.
- Do not give a recorded statement without contacting a lawyer.
You should talk to a lawyer when you’ve been in a car accident IF:
- You don’t know what kind of compensation/money you are entitled to
- The insurance company is asking you for a recorded statement
- The insurance company denies your claim
- There is a question of which driver is at fault
- The police report is incomplete or inaccurate
- The other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage
- You have unpaid medical bills
- You have permanent disability or constant pain
- There are complicated legal or medical issues
- You have missed more than a few days of work
Do your best to drive defensively, and safe travels.