Car accidents are disorienting, causing people to respond in ways they may not normally act. For many people, a car accident causes them to miss important details or speak without thinking. A perfect example of this is reflexive apologizing. Most people apologize after car accidents as a courtesy, even if the incident was not their fault. An apology can be used by insurance companies as an admission of fault, so avoid it—even if you believe it was your fault. For more advice on how to handle a collision, read our frequently asked questions.
The first thing you need to do is address any emergency medical needs. If someone is hurt, call an ambulance. As we mentioned, resist apologizing—simply do your best to take care of yourself and anyone else who is hurt at the scene of the accident.
If medical emergencies have been handled, take photos of your vehicle, vehicles belonging to the other driver(s), the road, and any injuries or bruises. Photos more powerful than descriptions when it comes to evidence, so it is better to take too many photos than not enough. Recording information is also crucial. Your work can help you pursue an injury claim.
Write / type as much of the following information as you can as soon as possible after the accident:
After your car crash, you will need to report the incident to your own insurance company. When you speak about the accident, only provide raw, objective facts. Providing your own speculation about the causes of the accident could end up hurting your injury claim later. Do not interpret—simply describe the events as they happened.
Do a short information exchange with the other drivers or passengers involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses if possible. Drivers are usually required to share their information, but if one refuses, write down their license plate number. The police will be able to retrieve the remaining information themselves. Remember that having more information than you need is better than less, so err on the side of caution.
For the drivers and passengers, ask them for:
For the other vehicle, retrieve:
If police are on the scene, they will need to write an accident report. When they ask you questions, report all the facts, and only the facts. They are looking to create an objective account of the events, so your interpretation of the collision will not only slow them down—it may be used against you later! Do not shift blame, comment on your innocence, or admit any wrongdoing. Their report will be crucial to an injury claim later, so report as many facts as you can as clearly as possible.
Believe it or not, what people believe of their own fault or innocence immediately after a car accident is not as accurate as they think. Even if you believe you were at fault, there may be factors that contributed to the crash that you are not aware of. Until the facts are revealed, apologizing or admitting wrongdoing will only hurt your ability to pursue needed resources later—even if you deserve compensation.
It is vital that you do not speak to the other driver’s insurance until you retain a Fort Washington injury attorney. You are not required to speak to the other driver’s insurance, or in any way release medical records to them. If they learn that you have representation, they are barred from speaking with you and must speak with us. Be polite but firm when they inevitably call—refuse to speak with them until you have a lawyer.
They may request your medical history—it is vital that you say no. A personal injury lawyer will be able to limit the medical records they have access to. Without a lawyer, releasing your medical records will give them access to your whole history, which means they can use your past conditions to limit your compensation in the present.
If you have been in an accident, speak with our attorneys today—call 310-850-7352.