If you are in a car accident, there are a few key steps to take to protect your safety and legal rights. Whether you wish to be prepared in the event of an accident or are giving advice to a loved one in a hazardous situation, you’ll be sure to find the information you need here.
Every car accident is different, but there are actions you can take in every situation. Keep in mind that safety is always the number one priority. If additional steps feel dangerous, skip them. Your attorneys will be happy to help you obtain the information you need after the accident.
Before you take any additional actions after an accident, there are mandatory steps to take to stay safe:
- Assess the situation and check for injuries. You don’t know if movement will cause you additional harm. If you feel pain, it’s best not to move until help arrives, assuming you are not in immediate danger.
- Call 911 if you suspect moderate or severe injuries that may require emergency care. Contact 911 immediately if your phone is within a safe distance. While witnesses may also reach out to the authorities, they might not be able to as fast as you can.
- If safe to do so, do not move the vehicle(s) and allow them to remain in position as caused by the collision or accident. This will facilitate the accident investigation.
These are the most important steps to take following an accident to keep everyone involved as safe as possible. Once these steps are out of the way, or if the accident wasn’t serious, you can focus on making things easier on yourself in the future.
What to Do After the Accident
Once you’re certain everyone involved in the accident is safe, there are a few things you can do before you drive off.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s). As the authorities will most likely remind you, it’s important to get the name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information of other drivers involved. It can be helpful to photograph the other drivers’ licenses and insurance cards. If there are witnesses at the scene, the police officer will ask for the their names and contacts. If an officer does not arrive at the scene, you may ask the witnesses for their names and phone numbers.
- Call a friend or family member. If your vehicle is damaged you may need another way home. It is also important to tell your family and/or friends what happened. You should let them know how you are feeling, and if you will be going to the emergency room (“ER”) or an urgent care facility.
- Take photographs at the scene, and write down what happened. This may seem unnecessary, but you’d be surprised what you forget in just a few days’ time. Taking photographs and jotting down a few notes shortly after the accident can help ensure you don’t forget important details. Take notes about how you feel immediately following the accident, and notes describing your symptoms (physical, emotional, and mental) in the days and weeks following the accident.
- Seek medical attention within a few hours of the accident. This could be an evaluation at the emergency room, urgent care, your doctor, or even a chiropractor. It is important to document any physical, mental or emotional symptoms that emerge after an accident. Sometimes symptoms take a few hours or days to arise once the immediate shock wears off.
- Make sure you have “Med Pay” coverage. Be prepared! In advance of an accident, it is important to ensure you have an adequate amount of Medical Payments (commonly called “Med Pay”) coverage on your own auto insurance policy, to help you pay your medical costs in case of an accident. Unlike third party settlements, which can take months or even years to resolve, your Med Pay will help pay your medical costs immediately after a car accident. Colorado state law requires auto policies to offer a minimum of $5,000 of Med Pay. This amount is enough to cover an ambulance and basic ER evaluation, but not enough to cover follow-up treatment and recovery. It is advisable to request the maximum amount of Med Pay available from your insurer, up to $25,000 if possible. It is generally inexpensive to add higher Med Pay limits to your policy, and is far more cost effective to utilize than a high deductible health insurance plan. Med Pay will also cover a greater range of treatment options and providers than the usual in-network health plan.
- Be wary of giving a recorded statement to an insurance company before you know the extent of your injuries. You do not want to underestimate the extent and costs of your medical treatment and risk the potential of an unreasonably low settlement offer from your insurance company. This is why you shouldn’t give statements to an insurance company too son after an accident, or without consulting an attorney with experience dealing with motor vehicle accident cases.
- Contact an attorney. Many people hire attorneys to handle their auto injury claims. An experienced attorney, such as the attorneys at Weiner & Cording, can help you protect your legal rights after a car accident. It can be challenging to deal with insurance companies and medical providers, especially after a traumatizing car accident. Our office is happy to help.
This blog post is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This information is for informative purposes only. The law is always changing; Weiner & Cording cannot guarantee that the information provided herein is current and accurate. Do not refrain from seeking legal advice because of anything contained in this article. Every situation is different. Consult an attorney for individual legal advice regarding your own situation.