IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE ACCIDENT:
- Stop! It's the law. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. Except for a medical emergency.
- Check for injuries and, if appropriate, help any Seriously Injured People to the extent of your training and ability.
- Call 911 -- Report the accident. Do not assume that another motorist has reported the accident. Police, emergency, and medical personnel are trained to clear the accident scene, direct traffic, remove vehicles, and assess the injured.
- If you can "Drive-It" -- Move-It". It's a safety issue for you and for the traffic on the road. And, in some states, it's the law.
- Turn your engine off -- it's a safety issue.
- Get out of your car and stay out of traffic -- it's a safety issue.
- Do not discuss the accident with the other Drivers, passengers or witnesses. Remember: "What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You!"
- Exchange Information: Get the name, address, home and work phone, Driver's License number, auto tag number, and auto registration information of all Drivers, and get the insurance company name, policy number and agent information for all vehicles. Get the name, address, and home and work phone of all passengers and witnesses.
AFTER EMERGENCY PERSONNEL ARRIVE:
- Get medical help for the injured as soon as possible.
- If your injuries are very serious, go to the hospital Emergency Room. EMT's are trained to assist and you and to take you to the hospital.
- Accidents are high-stress events. Things are often not as they seem to be and you are not in as complete control of yourself as you think you are.
- Do not say that you are not injured. You may be seriously injured and not know it. Remember: "What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You!"
- Cooperate with Police, emergency, and medical personnel.
- Do not admit fault or discuss the accident. However, you are required to give the investigating police the "details" of the accident. Report the details of the accident honestly and accurately. Tell only what you know. Do not assume facts. If you do not know, say so. Remember: "What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You!"
- Be your own advocate. Protect your rights. Do not assume that the other driver will admit responsibility for the accident. The "at-fault" driver is human and will have a tendency to "justify" his actions and shift blame.
- Only sign a traffic ticket or citation or an Accident Report issued by the police.
- Get the name and badge number of the police officers responding to the accident. Also, get the name and phone number of the police department to call for a copy of the Accident Report.
- The police may issue a traffic ticket or citation to the "at-fault" driver.
- The other drivers, passengers, and witnesses may receive a subpoena to appear in court to testify on behalf of the prosecution in the case of the "at-fault" driver.
AFTER THE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETE:
- If you required ER treatment, follow the treatment plan prescribed by the ER doctor. Seek follow-up care with your primary care physician and any specialists recommended by your doctors.
- Remember: You are in shock and your adrenaline is doing its job by working to cover up the pain of your accident trauma. Although you may not believe that you were seriously injured, you may feel pain later, including significant pain, when the emergency is over. See your primary care physician for a complete examination and treatment as soon as possible. If you simply "tough-it-out" and do not see your doctor, you give the insurance company the ability to deny that you were injured in the accident.
- Promptly report the accident to your insurance agent. Even if the accident is not your fault, most policies require that you report any accident. It puts your insurance company on notice of a potential claim and it protects your rights if later you need to file an Uninsured Motorist (UM), Underinsured Motorist (UIM), or other claim.
- Do not discuss the accident or give a statement to the insurance company or attorney for the "at-fault" driver. Remember: "What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You!" Instruct them to call your insurance company or your attorney.
- Preserve the Evidence!
- Get a copy of the Accident Report.
- Take Pictures of your injuries, your passenger's injuries, your car, the other cars (if possible), and the accident scene. Pictures are worth a thousand words.
- Keep receipts of all your accident-related expenses.
- Immediately write out the story of the accident while it is still "fresh" in your mind. Names, dates, times, the sequence of events, and "the" facts tend to be forgotten over time.
- Maintain a contemporaneous pain log. A Pain Log will help you understand and appreciate how you are suffering as a result of the negligence of the other driver. You will be able to monitor for yourself the changes in your life at work and at home. A Pain Log is a resource that will help you understand how the accident has affected the quality of your life. You will be better able to inform your doctor of your injuries. What your doctor doesn't know, your doctor cannot treat. By reviewing your Pain Log, you will become certain of the facts and you will be able to convince the adjuster (judge or jury, if necessary) that you were significantly injured.
- Call an attorney to discuss your claim. Most attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation in accident cases.
- Remember: Although, the "at-fault" driver's insurance company is very experienced at handling auto accident claims, their goal is to settle your claim as cheaply as possible. Unless you are an experienced claims processor, you do need someone to represent your interests (to be your Advocate).
David E. Danda & Associates, LLC
P. O. Box 941334
Atlanta GA 31141-0334