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What to do if you are in a car accident.
Some basic tips on things you should be aware of if you are involved in a serious car accident.
- BE CAREFUL – You will likely be in a state of shock. Make sure to take precautions for your safety and health, and the safety and health of any of your passengers, at all times.
- CHECK FOR INJURIES AND VERIFY SAFETY OF OTHERS - Make sure that you and your passengers are not badly injured. If it is safe to do so, exit your car and verify whether the drivers and occupants of other vehicles involved are seriously injured. If anyone is seriously injured, provide care if appropriate and call 911.
- CALL POLICE - Call the police and tell them you have been involved in an accident. The police will interview witnesses, take statements and may take photographs. Write down the name of the officer(s) and which agency they are from (i.e., Washington State Patrol, Seattle Police Department, King County Police, etc.)
- LOOK FOR AND TALK TO WITNESSES - Determine if there were any witnesses who saw the accident. It is important to do this right away as people will generally leave the scene of an accident within seconds or minutes. If you find any witnesses, get their contact information. If you have difficulty obtaining their contact information, quickly write down their license plate numbers or any other identifying information.
- DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE LIABILITY OR FAULT - Do not admit liability or fault for the accident.
- PHOTOGRAPH VEHICLES BEFORE MOVING THEM -- It may be necessary and appropriate to move the vehicles off of the roadway so as not to impede traffic or cause a safety hazard. If possible, photograph the cars in the position they came to rest after the collision (and before they are moved).
- PHOTOGRAPH ALL DAMAGE TO VEHICLES - Take photographs of the damage to the all of the vehicles involved. Take pictures from multiple angles and take several pictures of each damage part of the vehicle. Photograph the interior of the vehicle -- including any deployed airbags and other damge.
- PHOTOGRAPH SCENE, SKID MARKS, DAMAGE TO CURBS, RAILINGS, ETC. – Photograph the scene from multiple angles and also photograph all skid marks, if any. Also photograph curbs, railings, utility poles or other objects that may have been damaged in the collision. Take pictures witness, and those involved in the accident.
- OBTAIN INFORMATION FROM DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS - Obtain information from all drivers and passengers of all other vehicles involved (name, address, telephone numbers, insurance policy number, telephone number, drivers license number, and license plate number). Also find out if anyone involved in the accident was "on the clock" for their employer at the time of the accident.
- NOTIFY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY - Contact your insurance company and notify them you have been involved in an accident.
- SEEK PROMPT MEDICAL ATTENTION IF NEEDED - Even relatively minor seeming accidents can cause injuries. It is important to be examined and treated by an appropriate healthcare provider as soon as you experience any symptoms, so that you can begin your recovery.
- CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY - If you have been seriously injured in an accident due to the fault of another, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, as well as damages for your pain and suffering. You may also need assistance in working with the insurance companies handling your claim. It is important that you contact an attorney early in this process, to ensure that all your rights are protected.
Christopher L. Thayer
Attorney at Law
Larson, Hart & Shepherd, PLLC
Tel 206-340-2008; ext. 213
Learn more about the author, Christopher Thayer.
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- car accident
- motor vehicle accident
- personal injury
- personal injuries
- insurance claim