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.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently launched a fantastic web page on how to stay safe if you have to work during or after a winter storm.
If the weather is poor, staying off the road is clearly the best thing to do. However, if you have to drive during a winter storm, here are some great tips OSHA offers on preparing your vehicle for dangerous weather.
Inspect your vehicle thoroughly.
Brakes: Make sure they provide balanced and even breaking. Check that the brake fluid is at the proper level.
Cooling System: Ensure the proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water.
Electrical: Check the ignition and makes sure the battery is fully charged and that the connectors are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition.
Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
Exhaust: Check the exhaust for leaks and that the clamps and hangers are snug.
Tires: Check for good tread depth and for signs of damage or uneven wear. Check inflation.
Visibility: Inspect exterior lights, defrosters, and wipers. Install winter wipers. _ Check your oil levels.
Bring a winter emergency kit including:
Blankets / sleeping bags
Flashlight with fresh batteries
Extra winter clothes
Traction aids (sand or cat litter)
Snacks and water
And keep at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle at all times!
OSHA’s page is a rich source of information and I highly recommend taking a look.