After a motor vehicle accident, you may feel nervous, shocked and disorganized. Below are steps you should take after the collision occurs:
1. Call 911 and report the accident. Insist the police come, particularly if there is a dispute on who is at fault or if there is pain or discomfort at the scene of the accident. Assume the other driver will deny fault for the accident at a later date.
2. Take Pictures. Use your camera phone to take pictures of the vehicles immediately after the collisions and before the cars are moved. If it is unsafe to take pictures, take pictures from inside your car and then move your car to a safe area. Consciously remember the positions of the cars after the collision and take photos of where the cars were before and after they were moved. Take 360º pictures of each vehicle involve in the accident to record property damage for a later date.
3. Get witnesses. Immediately get the name and telephone number of any witness that saw the accident. Assume the other drivers will dispute how the accident happened. If you have witness information and the witnesses leave before the police arrive, give the officer the witness information.
4. Gather the other driver’s name, telephone number and insurance company. The police will also gather the information and give you accident information with the name of the drivers and insurance information. However, please take photos of the driver’s licenses and insurance cards of the other drivers involved.
5. Record license plate numbers. Take pictures of the license plates of each vehicle involved.
6. Gather your thoughts before talking to police. The officers at the scene will separate you from the other drivers and ask you how the accident happened and if you are injured. Think before you speak. The officer may quote you or state his recollection of how you stated the accident happened. If you feel pain or discomfort, tell the police officer.
7. See your doctor. If you feel pain or discomfort, promptly see your doctor or another available healthcare provider. In motor vehicle accidents, pain that you may think will just go away tends to linger and may get worse as time passes. Best to be safe and see a healthcare provider. If you are in significant pain at the scene of the accident, go to the emergency room.
8. Do not give recorded statements. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will call you or you may contact them to report the accident and damages to your car. Think about what you will say before you speak to a trained insurance adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to represent their insurance company and not necessarily your interests. If you are unsure, do not tell the adjuster you are “okay…” Everything you say is being written into the insurance company investigation file.
9. Cooperate fully with your insurance company. Call your insurance company to report the accident and damage to your vehicle. If you have collision coverage on the car, your insurance company is obligated to quickly get your vehicle repaired. If the accident is a hit-and-run accident, you are obligated to contact and report the hit-and-run within 72 hours of the accident.
Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident? Call Buckley & Associates at (206) 622-1100 today for your free consultation with experienced Seattle car accident attorneys.
We serve clients throughout the Seattle area and the state of Washington from our offices in Seattle and Tacoma.