Despite driving fewer miles, more people died in auto accidents this year, on average, than in 2019 according to National Safety Council data. Reckless, impaired and distracted driving are mostly to blame: police officers have caught more people speeding, sometimes in the triple digits.
If you get tangled up with one of these drivers, you will likely need emergency attention. If that’s the case, it’s not always possible to gather important information you will need later. But if you can (or if your passenger can) it’s important to gather as much information as possible at the scene. Your insurance company and your attorney (if you were injured) will need information that you can likely obtain at the scene.
While you’re at the scene of the accident, do the following:
1. Call the police. If you think you or anyone else involved in the collision are injured; or if any of the vehicles involved are not drivable, call 911. If there are no injuries, vehicles are drivable and the involved parties agree on which one is at fault for the cause of the collision, you can just exchange information. If there is a dispute as to cause/fault or if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance, it’s a good idea to ask the police to respond.
2. Take photos of the crash. Get as many photos and/or videos as possible of the damage to both vehicles, as well as the other driver’s license plate. Take pictures of the other driver’s proof of insurance, his/her driver’s license, and the vehicle registration. Also take pictures of any injuries you sustained. Because traumatic injuries evolve (and often look worse) over time, take additional photos as days go by until such time as the injuries are not visible.
3. Get contact information of all drivers involved. That includes name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance company.
4. Get name(s) and phone number(s) of any witnesses, including passengers in the other vehicle if possible.
5. Get medical treatment ASAP. Medical treatment not only helps you, but also generates a medical record that’s used to support your case. That medical record is important whether you’re filing a claim with an insurance company or filing a lawsuit.
If you have serious injuries which you think need to be treated, you’ll need to go to the emergency room. That’s a scary thought considering COVID-19. Know that our hospitals are taking extensive precautions to keep everyone safe. They screen every individual before they enter the ER. Anyone with symptoms or whom they suspect has COVID-19 goes to an isolated ward. So if you need to go, go.
6. If you don’t need to go to the ER, call your primary care doctor right away. Your doc will help you decide between virtual or in-person care. If you can’t get an appointment right away, you’re injured, and you don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, visit an urgent care facility—either virtually or in person. Appointment times are limited right now, so you may have to search around to get care.
7. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Tell the insurance representative for your insurance company what happened generally, but don’t let them record your conversation. Don’t speak with any representative from the other driver’s insurance company at all other than getting the rep’s name, contact information and a claim number. You will want to give that information to your lawyer and/or your insurance company.
8. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Most offer a free consultation. They’ll ask about your accident, your injuries, and will be able to give you helpful information. They will also be able to determine whether or not they can help you with your claim/case.
The peak of the holiday season is stressful enough. Add to that the anxiety of a pandemic, and you have a recipe for all sorts of accidents and injuries. If you get involved in a collision, gather all the information you need to make the insurance claim and other processes as smooth as possible.
Need to speak with a lawyer about your auto accident? Call our office for a free consultation. Our Oakland office is open for in-person visits when needed. We’re also available by phone, video, email, and text.