WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
It’s a beautiful snowy day here today, but the roads are treacherous. Unfortunately, as I drove into work this morning, I saw numerous drivers who were not driving appropriately for the road conditions — either driving too fast or too close to the car ahead – not allowing enough time to slow down. Listening to the news on the radio, I heard reports of many collisions on the roadways. So what happens if you are the unlucky victim of a car crash? Here are some tips on what to do after a car accident:
Turn off your vehicle. You don’t know the full extent of the damage to your car, and this will reduce the risk of fire.
Warn other drivers. You should immediately activate your four-way flashers and, if available and you can do it safely, 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 because of fire, traffic, or other emergency situation.
Call the police. It is very important that the police or State Patrol 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. You may later find there is a dispute as to how the accident happened, and a policy report may be helpful. 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 a crash 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, this information must 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 decides not to take down their information. Therefore, if possible, get the names, address and phone numbers of any persons who witnessed the accident.
Take pictures of the damaged vehicles if possible. Sometimes vehicles are destroyed or repaired before photographs are taken, so if you are able to take photos at the scene, do so. Of course, safety is a priority, so only do this if you can take photographs from a safe place.
Consult a doctor if you are experiencing pain or other symptoms. Your medical needs are first and foremost, and any pain or discomfort should not be ignored. Moderate stiffness and soreness may go away on its own, but you should not delay being checked out if your symptoms continue more than a few days or a week. See also, How To Get Your Medical Bills Paid.
Contact our office before calling your insurance company. Our Minnesota personal injury attorneys will explain your rights, offer you advice on what information to provide your insurance company, and how to get repaid 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. Automobile insurance issues can be confusing, especially if someone was injured. Talking to an experienced MN car accident lawyer is important to make sure you are treated fairly and get the benefits provided for in the insurance policies.
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 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 lawyer. For more information, see our Car Accident page.