Legal Columns


What to do after an automobile accident 08/16/2018

You’re scared, you’re flustered, you’re not prepared. Hold on! Here are some tried and true tips in the event you get into an automobile accident.

1. Don’t panic. If you have access to a phone, call 911 or ask someone in the car or the vicinity to do so to get a police report and medical aid if necessary.

2. Do not move the car unless it poses a danger to any of the drivers or traffic in general and then only as far as necessary.

3. Do not talk to any other driver or occupant of any other vehicle. Stay in the vehicle until the police come to the scene.

4. Keep the vehicle registration, insurance card and driver’s license with you whenever you’re in the car. Give the registration and insurance card to anyone else who drives the car. You can get a ticket and be fined if you do not have all of this information. You can lose your license for a year if the car is uninsured.

5. Be sure your insurance is current and paid up. You should have at least $100,000 liability coverage for your car and the same amount of uninsured motorist coverage in case someone who’s at fault and hits you is uninsured. NEVER carry less than $250,000 in Personal Injury Protection Benefits – the coverage that pays your bills. Those bills can mount up if you need special testing, injections or surgery. Collision and Comprehensive Insurance is also wise to cover property damage, especially for newer cars. If you lease a car, buy gap insurance to cover the difference between the value of the car and the amount you promise to pay to the lessor if the car is totaled. This can be thousands of dollars.

6. Tell the officer how the accident happened and if you are having any pain at all. Go to the hospital in an ambulance if the pain is severe. If you do not and you still have pain, go to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible. Have someone else drive.

7. If you are not hurt, obtain the name, address and phone of any witnesses not in any of the cars involved or direct the officer to them.

8. If you have a cell phone, take picture of the damage to all cars at the scene – close and from a distance for perspective.

9. Find out when the accident report will be available.

10. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. You will have to cooperate with your company but do not give any statement or discuss the case with any person or insurance company or investigator for any other car involved.

11. If you feel the accident is the fault of another driver (or your own if you are a passenger) and you are injured, consult with an attorney as soon as you are well enough to do so or otherwise arrange for an appointment.