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I was in an accident, what do I do?

by Daniel Joseph Shamy on Oct. 08, 2013

Accident & Injury Personal Injury Motor Vehicle  Traffic 

Summary: This article explains what a person should do if they have been in an accident to preserve evidence for a claim for injury and property damage to their vehicle.

It happens to everyone, no matter how careful you may be as a driver, you cannot control what other drivers do while they are behind the wheel.  You may use your signals to change lanes, you may even check the lane one over to make sure that you are not changing lanes as someone else is changing lanes into the middle lane, but an accident can still occur when you least expect. 

So, knowing that there are some things out of your control, what can you do should you find yourself in a fender bender or a serious car accident? Hopefully, should that happen to you, or a loved one, you are not injured to the point that you must be taken to a hospital on sigh. If you have been in an accident, and you were not at fault and remain on scene, here are a few tips to make sure that you collect the evidence you need to help with a potential personal injury claim to have your car repaired and receive treatment for your injury.

Call 911:  The first thing to do is to move your car to the side of the road out of traffic, but not far from the scene as to not obstruct traffic or risk further injury by getting hit by a car passing by the scene of the accident. The second, and most important thing to do, is to call 911 and report the accident. The police will come on scene and prepare a police report recreating the accident based on the physical evidence, and what the parties and witnesses described occurred causing the accident.

Get the Contact Information for Witnesses: Many times, witnesses will pull over when the accident first occurs to make sure that the drivers of the vehicles in the accident are ok and not injured, and potentially to call 911 to report the accident. In many occasions, these witnesses leave the scene immediately after making sure everyone is safe and not horribly injured. If the witness stays for the police to arrive, the witness will be interviewed and their contact information will be included in the report, along with their account of the incident.  If the witness plans on leaving before the police arrive, it is up to you to ask for the person's contact information and write down what they describe happened as well.  

Take Pictures of the Scene: Many times, the police who come to the scene write a report and diagram the incident, but they do not generally take pictures of the incident. To make sure that you have evidence of the accident suggesting the "at fault" party, take pictures of the scene of the accident, safely away from oncoming traffic, with your phone as well as pictures of the damage to each of the vehicles.  This includes damage done to the interior of the vehicle that would support any claim of injury arising from a portion of the interior that caused injury to your body.

Take Pictures of the Injury: Certain accidents cause lacerations, bruises or cuts on the face and or body. If you have suffered an injury that is visibly manifested on your body, take pictures of the injury as well as pictures of the body part should the injury cause a permanent mark. Scars and permanent marks on the body are a form of a permanent injury that may be claimed as part of the personal injury action filed against the "At fault" driver.

Is there a Red Light Cam? Certain places where accidents take place may be near an intersection with a red light camera or an intersection that has traffic cameras. If so, and there is a point of view that may have recorded the accident, a letter of preservation may be sent to the city and or county requesting a copy of any footage and to preserve the evidence. Be mindful of the timing, as letters of preservation, by general rule, must be sent within thirty (30) days of the incident.

Seek Treatment! As of January 1st, 2013, a new law was founded requiring that anyone who is injured in a car accident must seek medical attention within fourteen (14) days of the incident by a medical or chiropractic doctor.  The doctors who treat open a PIP Claim under your insurance, or the available insurance, to receive payment for medical treatment arising from a car accident. If the claim is not opened within the fourteen (14) day time requirement, you waive your right to receive PIP coverage for your medical treatment.

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