How to Handle a Motor Vehicle Accident
After an accident, it is normal to feel upset, startled and unable to think clearly. You may be experiencing adrenaline and shock or may be uncertain about the severity of your injuries. In the aftermath of an accident, certain steps should be taken to ensure your rights and interests are protected.
Ten Things You Should do After a Car Accident
1. Stop your vehicle: Never drive away from the scene of an accident even if it is minor, or you do not consider the accident to be your fault.
2. Prevent further injury: Turn on your hazard lights if possible. If you are in harm’s way, try and move your car to the shoulder. If you have cones or flares available, use them to alert oncoming traffic. If you are unable to move or it is unsafe to leave the vehicle, law enforcement will take the appropriate measures when they arrive.
3. Contact law enforcement: Even if you think no one has sustained serious injuries, it is advised that you alert law enforcement. A police report may be required when you file a claim with your insurance company. This report can be an invaluable piece of evidence if you need to file claim or lawsuit against another driver.
4. Make an accurate police report: When police arrive to the scene, make sure you tell the officers exactly what occurred. If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions simply answer, “I don’t know.” Never say that you are not injured after an accident. In many cases, the extent of your injuries may not be apparent until weeks or even months after an accident. If you are unsure as to whether you are injured, you may simply say that you do not know.
5. Document the accident: If you are capable of taking photos at the scene of the accident you should do so. If you are injured, take photos of your injuries.
6. Exchange information: Once the investigating officer arrives, he or she will gather all the following information related to the accident: location, road conditions, date and time, when police were notified, number of vehicles and the information of each person involved in the accident. You can ask for a number for the police report so that you can obtain a copy of it later. If, however, you are unable to notify police or the police do not arrive, gather contact information and insurance information from each person involved and contact information for any witnesses at the scene.
7. Seek immediate medical attention: If you have been injured you may need to be transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital. If you decide not to be transported by an ambulance, you should still undergo a physical exam. Many injuries sustained in an auto accident are not immediately apparent. Serious damage can be done to your spine and back even in accidents that seem minor. Serious closed head injuries can be fatal if not treated quickly. You should inform the doctor that you were in a vehicle accident and be checked for a concussion or head injury if you lost consciousness, even momentarily.
8. Use caution when discussing the accident: Don’t speak to anyone other than your attorney, your insurance company and the police regarding your accident. If the other driver’s insurance company adjuster or investigator calls you, do not speak to them regarding the accident and alert your attorney. Do not say it was your fault – Arizona is a fault based state, which means fault must be proven.
9. Keep a file: Keep all your documentation regarding your accident in one file that can be accessed whenever needed. It should include your claim number, contact information of all parties involved in the accident, car repair bills, car rental receipts and documentation about your health and injuries.
10. Protect your rights by hiring an attorney: Consult a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney regarding the details of the car accident. For more than 30 years, Shultz & Rollins has established a record of helping our clients obtain the compensation they deserve whether by a verdict in the courtroom or through settlement negotiations. Contact us if you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Arizona.