Getting into a car accident can be scary and emotions run high. As overwhelmed as you may feel, it’s important to keep a clear head and remember there are a few important things you need to do at the scene of the accident and afterward to protect your rights.
What to Do at the Scene
Do not leave the scene of the accident until you have checked on everyone and exchanged information. If there is significant injury, property damage, or death, you must contact the police. Failure to do so means you can face a hit-and-run driver charge.
- Check on passengers and drivers. Get medical attention if anyone is hurt.
- Call the police and request a police report after police arrive. Get badge numbers and names of responding officers.
- Exchange information with the other driver, including names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, insurance information, and license plate numbers. Get names and numbers of passengers as well.
- Do not apologize. Saying you’re sorry may be admitting legal liability for the accident.
- Get witness names and numbers if you can.
- Take pictures of the accident. This includes photos of the general scene that includes landmarks like traffic lights as well as photos of the damage and the position of the vehicles.
After the Accident
- Inform your insurance company of the accident. Stick to the facts and make sure you are honest.
- Get medical attention. Make sure you get medical attention as quickly as possible unless you are certain you were not hurt. Many injuries from an accident are not apparent right away and you may not feel pain until a day or two later. Keep track of your treatments by making a note of the professionals from whom you receive treatment and when you are referred to another provider. Request copies of your medical reports and bills to establish your medical expenses. It’s also a good idea to keep a journal documenting any pain you experience, missed days of work, and activities you can’t undertake.
- Take photos any injuries you sustained.
Protect Your Rights
You may want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney if anyone was hurt in the accident. Insurance companies typically give low settlement offers that may not cover your medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. Some injuries you sustained may not show up for weeks or even months. Do not settle a claim until you have consulted with an attorney.
Most Albuquerque personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis which means your attorney is only paid if you are awarded a settlement or damages. An attorney will look after your best interests and help you secure the fair compensation you deserve.