The moments following a car accident can be intense, and common sense often falls to the wayside. It’s easy to get swept up in your body’s stress response and completely forget about obtaining critical pieces of information from all involved parties. Knowing what to do after a car accident is always obvious in retrospect; however, it’s typically too late at that point to gather the important information needed for your case. Unfortunately, that lack of information can impede a car accident claim or court case.
Below is an outline of what to do after any accident involving a motor vehicle. All steps are also applicable to accidents involving motorcycles or pedestrian-vehicle accidents.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Safety is always your first priority. If you witness an accident or are involved in an accident where someone has a life-threatening or serious injury, always start by calling 911 and allowing medical and safety personnel to do their jobs. Don’t try to move victims unless there is an immediate danger, such as fire.
For accidents that don’t involve serious injuries, though it may not be necessary to call 911, you should make sure that a police report is filed.
The Value of a Police Report
For accidents that don’t seem serious, you may be tempted to save time and hassle by not calling the police; however, this could be a costly mistake down the road. If there is no police report, valuable information such as witness’ names, victims’ accounts, and contact information may become unobtainable. As a result, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault for the accident.
Even if the other driver tries to talk you out of calling the police, it’s always best to make sure a police report is generated as soon as possible.
Seeking Medical Attention
Sometimes people are not immediately aware of car accident injuries; this is especially common in situations regarding shock or trauma. If you are injured and you don’t seek medical attention right away, your claim could be in jeopardy down the road. From both a medical and legal perspective, it makes the most sense to seek medical help as soon as possible.
The longer you wait, the higher the chance that your claim will be contested as insurance companies may assert that your injury occurred after the accident took place, thereby forfeiting your claim. They may also claim that the injury could not have been very severe since you didn’t seek immediate medical attention. If you are involved in an accident, it is your responsibility to get yourself checked by a medical professional. This can be done by an emergency responder at the scene, or you can schedule a visit with your family doctor or an urgent care facility immediately following the accident.
This is an important step that should not be overlooked after an accident. Although it can be a disorientating experience, the time spent waiting for police to finish their reports can be used to take photos and gather additional evidence. Take as many pictures as possible of the damage to your vehicle, other vehicles, and surrounding property. Photographs showing the positions of all involved vehicles where they came to a stop immediately after the accident can be very helpful in determining fault for an accident. Be sure to also include other details such as traffic signals, warning signs or guardrails. There also may be security cameras at nearby businesses that may have captured your accident. Don’t forget to take pictures of any injuries, too.
Apart from pictures, collect the contact information of anyone involved in the accident. This should include their names and phone numbers, the name and number of their insurance company, as well as the names and contact information for any witnesses present at the scene of the accident.
Calling Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company for their exact policy, but most insurance companies expect that you will call them within 48 to 72 hours of an accident. Failing to work within these limits can put unnecessary hardship on your claim and should be avoided. Oregon and Washington law requires that every automobile insurance policy must provide Personal Injury Protection coverage unless the purchaser of the insurance waives this mandatory coverage in writing. Personal Injury Protection or “PIP” coverage is the primary insurance for paying medical bills for injuries arising from a car accident. The sooner that your automobile insurer is contacted and a PIP claim is opened, the sooner your medical bills arising from an accident will be paid. Another thing that should be avoided is admitting fault. Let the insurance companies argue over this; you don’t need to admit any fault as that could make you liable.
Contacting an Attorney
Car accidents can be scary experiences; if you are injured, you may have a hard time handling the aftermath, especially if it involves missed work or lost income, hospitalization, medical treatments, or dealing with insurance adjusters. Contacting an attorney who specializes in personal injury claims makes the most sense because he or she will be able to focus on your case while you rest and recover. With an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, you will feel confident about recovering lost assets and knowing that your case is in good hands.
Personal Injury and Liability
Personal injury attorneys deal with cases where someone has been injured accidently (not intentionally) due to another person’s actions or failure to exercise reasonable care. This type of law deals with cases where someone has been hurt or injured (including mental injury), but it also includes wrongful deaths and fatalities.
Determining liability and negligence are important to an injury claim. If someone is at fault for negligence or reckless action that leads to the injury of another person, they may be liable to cover the cost of medical expenses, lost income from work, emotional pain and suffering, burial fees, etc. A personal injury claim may be able to recover monetary funds to recuperate those losses.
Call the Law Office of Gregory E. Price, P.S.
We are experts on personal injury law, so we know how overwhelming it can be to handle the piles of paperwork required after an accident. From police reports to hospital bills to handling insurance claims, there is nothing simple about dealing with the aftermath of a car accident. There are time limits and time frames that must be met. Additionally, you need to know your legal rights.
At the Law Office of Gregory E. Price, P.S., we have 30 years of experience handling personal injury claims. We understand what it is like to go through such an emotionally straining event. We are here to make this process easier by quickly and thoroughly reviewing your Portland or Vancouver area car accident claim and guiding you through the steps needed to return to a healthy and prosperous life.