Automobile Accidents: What to do During and After an Accident

Scartelli Olszewski P.C.

For many of us, driving is a daily activity: we drive to work, drive our family members to activities and appointments, drive to restaurants, shops, doctors’ offices, the movies, and countless other destinations. But automobile accident statistics are sobering. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that each year, automobile accidents cause approximately 2.5 million injuries and 40,000 deaths. Would you know what to do in the event of a motor vehicle accident? As attorneys who handle a wide range of accident matters – from car crashes, truck accidents, tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents and ATV accidents, to van accidents, drunk driving, pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents – we know that preparation and information are the keys to protecting ourselves and our loved ones.Accident PreparednessAll drivers should keep safety equipment on hand to be used in the event of a car accident. Small orange cones, warning triangles or even flares take up relatively little room, but pack a big punch when it comes to alerting other motorists to an accident scene. Details of any medical conditions or other relevant medical information pertaining to you and your family members may also be kept in the glove compartment of your vehicle.

And finally, keeping a notepad, pen, and even a disposable camera on hand can prove valuable in the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident.At the SceneAutomobile accidents are traumatic events that typically leave motorists shaken and stressed. Nonetheless, it is crucial to remain calm and proceed carefully in the wake of an accident.

  • Seek medical attention for any injured drivers or passengers.
  • Turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights. If it is safe to do so, use traffic devices such as cones or warning triangles to alert other motorists to the accident scene.
  • Contact the police, even if your accident seems minor. If possible, do not move the vehicles until the police arrive. Remain at the scene of the accident.
  • Politely ask for and write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of all involved parties, including potential witnesses. Obtain names and badge numbers of any police officers who respond to the accident.
  • Photograph the vehicles and any injuries you or your passengers sustained in the accident.
  • Do not apologize or otherwise suggest that the accident was your fault. Accident scenes are often hectic and it may not be immediately clear who was at fault for the accident.
  • Notify your insurance company of the accident.
  • Do not discuss the accident with anyone but the police or your insurance agent or representative. You are not required to give a statement to anyone but the police and your insurance company.

After the AccidentObtain a copy of the accident report prepared by the police. If your vehicle was damaged, obtain a property damage valuation from your insurance company. If you believe your insurance company’s estimate was too low, seek several independent repair or replacement estimates from licensed mechanics and / or car dealerships.In the event of an injury, write down all visits with doctors and other health care providers. Keep a journal of any symptoms or pain you experience. Keep track of test results, medications, treatments, and any other pertinent medical information. Write down any out-of-pocket expenses you incur. Also record any days of missed work or other activities in which you were unable to participate.Last, do not accept a settlement offer without consulting a personal injury attorney.