If you have ever been involved in an automobile accident, you know how frightening of an experience it can be. In addition to potentially suffering an injury, an accident may leave you feeling disoriented or confused. As a result, it is important to have prior knowledge of how to properly conduct yourself in the event you are the victim in a crash.
The following steps will help ensure you are readily prepared if you find yourself in an automobile accident.
Seek medical help right away
Your health and safety come first, so get medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. Some people with serious injuries have no choice but to get immediate medical help. Too many others underestimate their injuries, however.
They feel they should focus on reporting the accident and ignore their symptoms or believe they will fade. This could backfire on you down the road, however. Many injuries actually worsen over the days following an accident, and early treatment can make a significant difference. In addition, documenting your injury with a doctor could be important when filing your claim with the insurance company.
Get to safety
After you check yourself for injuries, check on others involved, including the other driver. Do not attempt to move anyone with neck or back pain. When possible, move your car to a safe place off to the side of the road. If the damage or injuries are severe, however, leave your vehicle in place for a possible accident investigation or take several pictures of the scene before moving the cars. Finally, make sure your hazards and parking brake are on to avoid a subsequent accident with an oncoming motorist.
Exchange information with the other drivers
Assuming all drivers can do so, exchange your names and insurance information. Include addresses, phone numbers and any other relevant contact information. Take pictures of the accident and note the make, model and license plate number of all vehicles involved. When possible, talk to any witnesses and collect their contact information in case you need it later.
Report the accident to the police
Pennsylvania requires that you call the police to report serious accidents resulting in injury, death or if any of the vehicles can no longer be driven. It can be difficult to determine whether your accident is serious in the moment, however, so err on the side of calling the police. If you do not notify law enforcement immediately, you have five days to report your accident, which you must do if there are any injuries or serious property damage.
Contact your insurance company
You will also have to report the accident to your insurance company. Keep in mind that neither your insurance company nor the other driver’s company is looking out for your best interests. You may want to consider discussing your accident with an experienced attorney before dealing with insurance companies. That being said, the initial call is typically just to let your insurance know the accident occurred, and they usually require you to call again within a short amount of time.
In the days and weeks to come, make sure you follow up on all reports and claims, follow your doctor’s recommended course of treatment for your injuries and seek legal help to pursue your claim.
Meet with an experienced attorney
Automobile accident cases can be complex and your insurance company will not make it any easier on you. An experienced attorney can help you navigate your claim and determine your options. The sooner an attorney and her office become involved, the quicker the facts of your case may be investigated and verified as needed.