WHAT TO DO AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT
What you do immediately following a car crash can affect your health, safety and legal rights. As Minnesota personal injury attorneys who have handled hundreds of auto accident injury claims for over 25 years, this is our advice on what to do after a collision:
Turn off your vehicle. You don’t know the full extent of the damage to your car, and you want to reduce the risk of fire.
Warn other drivers. You should immediately activate your four-way flashers and, if available, use flares or reflective devices to alert others of your stopped vehicle.
Don’t move injured persons. It is generally better to keep an injured person stationary until qualified medical personnel arrive, unless that person is in danger of fire, traffic, or other emergency situation.
Call the police. It is critical that the police are called to the scene, even in situations where it does not appear there was much damage to the cars and/or no one appears to be injured. At a minimum, a police officer will note the parties’ identification and insurance information on the police report and document who was at fault. Cooperate with the responding officer by answering his or her questions simply and directly, and with only the facts that you personally know and observed. Be truthful.
Exchange driver and vehicle information. Minnesota law mandates that drivers involved in an accident provide their name, address, date of birth, vehicle registration number, proof of ownership, name and address of automobile insurance company and proof of insurance. Even in accidents with little or no damage, it is important that this information be exchanged.
Obtain names of witnesses. Unfortunately, the police report does not always identify all of the eyewitnesses to the accident, either because the witnesses leave the scene before the police arrive, or the officer simply chooses not to take down their information. Therefore, if possible, obtain the names, address and phone numbers of any persons who witnessed the accident. You should do this even if the cause of the accident seems obvious.
Don’t admit fault. Make no apologies or admit fault to anyone, even the police. You may not know all of the facts about what contributed to the collision. A thorough investigation later may locate information that shows you were not the cause of the crash.
Consult a doctor if you are experiencing pain or other symptoms. Your medical needs and the needs of your family or passengers are the highest priority and any pain or discomfort should not be ignored. It may be OK to wait a day or two if your pain is minor and may go away on its own, but if you are still experiencing pain after a couple days, or the pain is getting worse, don’t delay treatment. Your auto insurance will pay for the medical treatment. See WHAT ARE NO-FAULT BENEFITS.
Contact our office before calling your insurance company. We will explain your rights, offer you advice on what information to provide your insurance company, and how to obtain compensation for any damage to your vehicle. Your conversation with us will be confidential regardless of whether you ultimately have a case we can handle for you.
Notify your automobile insurance company of the accident. You should report the accident even if it was not serious or it was not your fault. If you do not report your car accident, the insurance company may later deny coverage. Do NOT provide your insurance company (or the other driver’s insurance company) with a recorded or written statement until you have the chance to consult with an attorney.
If you are an auto accident, please call us as soon as possible. We are Minnesota personal injury lawyers and our attorneys have more than 25 years’ experience successfully handling hundreds of cases. An experienced car accident attorney will provide you with a free consultation and fully explain your rights to you after a car accident. The primary focus of our lawyers is to make sure you get all the compensation you are entitled to.