Auto Accident FAQs
Q. How should I proceed if I am in an automobile accident?
A. If you are injured, your primary focus should be on receiving medical attention. Call the police – this is an important aspect in demonstrating the accident occurred. If you have not been seriously injured, and feel that you are not in a dangerous situation, your next step is to document and collect as much as information as possible. You will need the full name, address, telephone number, and license plate number of the other driver as well as his or her insurance information. It is appropriate to ask for the names and contact information of any passengers as well. If you are able, take pictures of the damage and the surrounding area including the streets, intersections and any skid marks. If there are witnesses, be sure to obtain their contact information as well. Make note of any comments the other driver (s) makes with regard to injuries, most especially if they say they are not injured or if they apologize for the accident, acknowledge responsibility and/or indicate why they are at fault. It is also important to record any information about police visiting the accident scene including names and badge numbers.
Q. What if the other driver appears impaired by drugs or alcohol.
A. Contact the police immediately, take notes as indicated above, but do not engage with the other driver – let the police handle this aspect.
Q. Do I need to contact my insurance company?
A. Yes – most insurance companies have strict guidelines about reporting accidents and it is to your advantage to provide a prompt report. You will be required to convey the information gathered at the scene regarding the other driver (s) involved as well as your perception about the accident occurred. If you have concerns about your liability (for instance, you had other passengers in your car that were injured) or concerns about your coverage, it is advisable to speak with a qualified attorney first.
Q. This accident wasn’t a big deal – just a mild fender bender. Do I really need to do all of this?
A. Yes. Drivers often change their minds several days after an accident – and claim to be plagued by new symptoms and injuries as a result of the accident that they did not report at the scene. It is imperative that you utilize all the procedural channels put into place by the law and by insurance companies – this will afford you the greatest amount of protection.
Q. Do I need to contact an attorney?
A. It is always advisable to contact a qualified and experienced attorney if you have been in an automobile accident, even if you feel the accident was minor. This is especially important if you are inexperienced in this area and are not aware of the advice that you might need. Seasoned personal injury attorneys with direct experience in automobile accident cases are able to anticipate scenarios that may arise for their clients – and protect and advise their clients while there is still time. Call an attorney right way if you have been in an automobile accident.
Q. The other driver’s insurance company wants to speak to me and they seem friendly and polite – should I speak with them?
A. No. Never speak to the other driver’s insurance company unless you have received counsel from your attorney to do so. Claims adjusters are highly skilled at they do and they possess terrific people skills on the telephone which are designed to work against you – they already know the details of the accident – their goal is to elicit information from you that will harm your case. Politely decline.
Q. I am not bruised or bleeding and I didn’t need medical attention at the scene of the accident. Should I go to the doctor?
A. It is common to be so unnerved by an accident that you don’t notice any physical symptoms until the next day. It is always advisable to go a doctor promptly for two reasons. First of all, you may have an injury that is more serious than you think, for instance, you may have had a concussion or have damaged a cervical disk in your spine but not realize that your dilated pupils or tingling fingertips are in fact symptoms of an injury. Secondly, if you develop symptoms at a later date but do not have a record of having seen a doctor, you will have the additional and difficult burden of proving your injuries are related to the automobile accident.