What to Do After an Accident
You've just been in an accident.
You get off the road and call 911 - but beyond that, how do you protect yourself after an accident? Do your best not to panic - we've outlined what to do and what not to do in the situations you'll probably run into.
You're still at the scene.
You've called 911, and you're waiting for police and emergency crews to arrive. Even if no one is hurt, police should be called to document the accident.
- Exchange information with everyone who's at the scene. If it's a car accident, talk to the other driver involved and get the following information: name, address, and phone number; the make, model, and year of the car; driver's insurance information; car registration; and driver's license number. Also talk to witnesses, including any passengers, and document their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Pay attention to, and record, the details. Note the time, weather conditions, road conditions, landmarks, and anything else you feel may be important.
- Have a camera phone or a camera handy? Snap photos of the accident scene, including damage, the property, roads, landmarks, and anything else that could be important.
- Don't apologize or cast any blame. It may be difficult to do when you or someone else is hurt, but words can be twisted. Even a simple "I'm sorry," or, "What were you thinking?" may be used against you.
Insurance companies won't stop calling.
You're in the hospital or recovering at home, but the insurance companies are calling or visiting you. They keep asking questions, and they say they want to record you giving a statement. Their questions might be making it seem or implying that the accident was your fault.
- Call an attorney.
- DON'T say or sign ANYTHING.
- DON'T give a statement. If an insurance agent asks to talk to you, you're free to say no, hang up, and call an attorney.
- DON'T sign any documents, even if the insurance company claims you must. You could mistakenly sign away your rights to compensation.
- DON'T accept a settlement without talking to an attorney. Chances are, with legal representation, you can be offered more.
People want to hear about the accident.
The police, insurance companies, friends, and family are asking about the accident. They want to hear "exactly what happened" one more time. You're thinking about posting a status update on your social media accounts (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram) saying what happened and how you're feeling.
- Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. However, provide only basic facts and do not provide a written or recorded statement.
- Again, DON'T say or sign ANYTHING, especially when it comes to the insurance companies.
- DON'T place any blame, even if the other person absolutely caused the accident.
- Simply share the facts. The police will document the accident and write a report to prevent any false claims.
You may already be in the hospital, seeing your doctor, going to therapy, or you're simply feeling pain.
- Don't delay getting medical help. Not only is this better for your health, but it will also prevent insurance companies from asking, "Why did you wait?"
- Document all medical progress for your records, including: how you're feeling; your appointments; which practitioners you see; and what medications you're instructed to take.
- Document all medical bills that come your way.
Remember, don't hesitate.
Even though the last thing on your mind after an accident is hiring an attorney, you shouldn't wait. Statutes of limitations restrict the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an injury. For example, in Pennsylvania, you only have two years from the date the injury occurred. Even then, the longer you wait after your injury, the harder it becomes to prove your case.
When you choose us to represent you, we start working on your case immediately. We know that evidence can disappear quickly, and so we send our own experienced team of investigators to the scene. We'll collect the evidence, we'll get the police report, we'll talk to the insurance companies - and we'll update you as you recover.