1. Always call 911 and wait for the emergency personnel.
Never rely on anyone else to make this important call. Surprisingly, when there are many people who witness a collision, often nobody will call, believing that someone else has already called. Never leave the site of the collision until after the emergency personnel arrive.
2. Think about safety.
Many times, when people are trying to sort out the initial collision, they are subsequently injured by a third-party. Make sure that you are taking precautions to avoid additional injuries. Ideally, put your blinkers on, set out flashers, etc. This is particularly important information for Good Samaritans.
3. Take pictures.
Pictures are truly worth 1000 words. Photos can be very valuable in proving your case in the event there is litigation. These days, almost all phones have some picture taking abilities. Take pictures of your vehicle, the other vehicle, the other driver, any witnesses, the accident scene – even the police officers. Also, take many different angles. If possible, videos are encouraged. Do not delete these images, even if they are unclear or blurry. (In one collision, a client had the other driver admit to liability on the video.)
4. Obtain a police report.
Sometimes the police are reluctant to issue a report. However, it’s very important so always ask the police to issue a report. See if you can get the police officer’s name, badge number, and telephone number. If there is an ambulance, try to get the name of the ambulance company, the ambulance driver and any other person who works for the ambulance company
5. Get insurance information from the other driver(s) and identification of the other driver(s).
Write down the insurance information, including: the name of the insurance company, the name of the agent, the name of the insured, and the policy number. (In fact it’s a good idea to write down the policy number twice to avoid any transcription errors.)
Make sure you the full legal name, address, telephone number, mobile number, and work numbers of all drivers involved.
6. Search for witnesses.
Usually, the police will investigate potential witnesses and obtain statements. Unfortunately, many witnesses do not want to wait at the scene, or wish to avoid being called as a witness. As soon as you’re able, asked for the names and telephone numbers of all the witnesses.
7. Seek immediate treatment if appropriate.
Sometimes, it is difficult to determine if you require an ambulance to take you to the emergency room. This is because your body is pumped full of adrenaline. However, as soon as you start feeling pain, you should go to a doctor to be evaluated. Less expensive options than the emergency room includes urgent care clinics, or your family doctor. However, under any scenario, go if you are feeling any pain.
In one of our cases, our client had a fractured neck, and did not realize it until he went to his family doctor 10 days after the collision. The doctor explained that the fracture was so serious that permanent injuries could have occurred if he had not sought treatment.
8. Do not admit fault.
While we believe it is important that folks involved in collisions are truthful, the legal question as to liability changes on the facts and circumstances. Sometimes fault rests with third parties. Wait and speak with an attorney and make this decision in conjunction with your attorney’s advice.
9. Contact Your Insurance Company Shortly – But Not Immediately
10. Obtain Counsel.
For any major accident, you should speak to an attorney before speaking to anyone else. The insurance company’s goals and objectives are different than yours, and you must present your case in a way most favorable to you. Carefully weigh the options of speaking with the other driver’s insurance company. (Please see our section Top 9 Issues to Think About Prior to Speaking with an Adjustor.) Please do not settle any case until you speak with a lawyer. The insurance companies always push folks to settle. Why? They know that you will settle the case for less than it is truly valued. Settling too quickly is almost always a mistake. In fact, the harder they push you to settle, the more suspicious you should be.