Remain at the scene, get yourself to a safe location and call 9-1-1. If there has been an injury, request an ambulance. Regardless of how minor you think the auto accident is, you should always report it to the police. Unless you have been injured and need medical treatment, do not leave the scene until the police have arrived and have your statement about what occurred.
If you are injured in the accident you should go to the emergency room immediately. If your injuries were not emergencies, see a doctor as soon as you can after the collision. Keep records of all of your medical appointments and costs. If you do not have immediate symptoms, it is still a good idea to be evaluated by a physician. Sometimes the affects of the accident are not immediately felt due to the body’s response during the accident.
Whatever type of injury you have sustained from a car accident and however small or insignificant it appears to be, you should always seek both medical and legal assistance immediately following the accident. Delaying the process could mean a delay in diagnosis or treatment, and could also make the difference between a successful claim and ineligibility to file for compensation against the person responsible for your injuries and loss.
Get as many details of the accident as possible. Take pictures of the damaged vehicles and any injuries sustained. (Most cell phones have cameras) Get the names and numbers of any witnesses to the accident who may later be able to help prove your claim. The more detail you can provide your attorney the better.
Get the names, telephone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, vehicle and insurance information of the other parties involved in the collision.
Keep a written account of any conversations and dealings with the other individuals involved in the accident, insurance officers, agents, police or rescue personnel and any witnesses.
Save receipts, bills and proof of any out-of-pocket payments for any and all expenses relating to your claim such as bills for any repair work on the damaged vehicle, and any medical costs incurred for the treatment of any injuries including prescription expenses.
Contact your insurance company as soon after the accident or injury as possible. You will need to put them on notice of the accident and make a claim under your applicable insurance policy depending on your coverage. Apply for Personal Injury Protection benefits (‘PIP”), and if you have purchased it, medical payment coverage, collision coverage or other appropriate benefits.
Be truthful about the accident, injuries and any prior accidents and injuries so that your claim is not denied for fraudulent reasons.
Review all insurance policies that may provide coverage for the particular accident or injury. You may have multiple insurance policies from which to recover benefits for the accident.
Keep a diary of your activities of daily living and how the injury is affecting you and your family. Be as detailed as possible. In most cases, it will take some time to recover from your injuries and attempt a resolution of your claim. If you do not write down details, you may forget some of the problems you encountered, how the pain affected your abilities and how you suffered physically and emotionally.
If you have rental reimbursement coverage, you can have your insurance company reimburse your for renting another vehicle while yours is being repaired or replaced. Find out how much your insurance company will pay per day for a rental car and how many days the rental car will be covered.
Some insurers will send someone out to evaluate your auto insurance claim and assess the damage to your vehicle or they may ask you to get an estimate from a body shop first, after which they will send an adjuster to corroborate the estimate. Choose a body shop you trust, not necessarily the cheapest one. Also demand that your insurer pay for original equipment manufacturer parts for your vehicle and not generic aftermarket parts. If the estimate the adjuster offers is not fair, consult the appraisal provision of your policy to determine your options.
Contact an attorney that specializes in handling automobile accident cases.