Being in a car accident is a terrifying experience that can leave even the most level-headed person unable to think clearly. In the confusion after an accident it can be difficult to remember the basics of preserving your legal rights. This article from Littleton Automobile Accident Attorney Bonnie Shields provides pointers on what to do after a car accident.
1. Check the Health of Everyone Involved
First and foremost after an accident you should be concerned with the health and safety of everyone involved. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries, then, if it’s safe to do so, ask if everyone else involved in the accident is okay. If anyone is injured you should immediately contact emergency services and law enforcement for help.
2. Contact Emergency Services & Law Enforcement
While it may not be necessary to do so for every accident, it’s better to be safe than sorry by contacting local law enforcement after an automobile accident has occurred. Emergency services and police are able to assist with injured persons and vehicle damage and are critical for developing an accurate picture of what happened. Law enforcement officers are specially trained to observe and report on accidents and their reports are heavily relied upon by insurance companies, courts and juries.
Emergency services personnel are also important because many injuries that result from a car accident are not immediately apparent and require professional training to identify. An initial identification of and report on injuries will be critical in treatment and also developing or defending a personal injury or tort law suit later.
3. Take Pictures & Videos
Almost every phone on the market today contains a camera. After making sure everyone is ok and contacting the authorities it will be important for you to document the accident scene. Within moments the details of the accident can become hazy. By quickly taking photographs of the scene you can ensure that important details of the accident aren’t overlooked. In particular your photographs should focus on vehicle positions, property damage, the location of traffic control devices (red lights and stop signs), road surface conditions (ice, water, skid marks, etc.) and any other items that might seem relevant at the time.
Keeping in mind the potential for personal injury or criminal law suits it may also be helpful to immediately take pictures of the license plates of each car involved. Hit and run accidents are common and you’ll be happy you have pictures of a hit and run perpetrator’s license plates after they’ve fled the scene. Another helpful item could be video of the people involved in the accident in case issues such as driving while under the influence become important later.
4. Do Not Make Admissions of Fault
Sometimes people involved in an accident make immediate admissions of fault or offer to pay for property damage or medical bills. While such gestures may seem noble, you might not have an accurate understanding of the accident and its causes. Even if you believe you are at fault for an accident, it could be that the other persons involved were also partially at fault. An immediate admission on your part could prevent a complete investigation and result in unnecessary costs.
5. Write a Report
As soon as you’re able to after an automobile accident you should draft a report of what happened. Traumatizing events become fuzzy in the human mind just moments after the event occurs. For this reason, the sooner you can begin jotting down your observations and recollections the better. Diagrams of how the accident occurred can be very helpful to police, insurance companies and the courts if the events turn into a personal injury law suit. Don’t assume any detail isn’t important as you prepare your own report.
Call for a Free Consultation
If you have any other questions about automobile accident injuries, or personal injury lawsuits generally, call Littleton Personal Injury Attorney Bonnie Shields to learn about your legal rights.