What to Do In Case of An Auto Accident
Call the police (probably). Even if nobody is hurt and the damage to the vehicles and property appears minor you should at least contact the police/law enforcement. Dial 911 and tell the operator if it is an emergency. Let a law enforcement officer determine if the collision is minor and a mere information exchange slip is needed instead of a collision report. However if you and the other involved parties decide against contacting law enforcement be sure to get the following information from all drivers: driver’s full name, date of birth, driver’s license number [ask to see the actual driver’s license], address, telephone number; vehicle insurance information [ask to see an insurance information card], vehicle identification number [ask to see the vehicle registration card] and year, make, model, and color of the vehicle.
Move your vehicle from the roadway (possibly). In North Carolina if your vehicle is driveable and there are no personal injuries from the collision you MUST move your vehicle out of the roadway and onto a shoulder or other nearby location. Otherwise, leave your vehicle where it came to rest and alert oncoming traffic by using your vehicle’s emergency flashers or highway cones.
Take notes. While waiting for the police and emergency vehicles to arrive if you are able to you should try to do the following: draw a diagram or map of the accident scene, location of vehicles before and after the accident; record the time, date, and location of the accident; summarize how the accident occurred and the location (parts of body) and description (dull pain? shooting pain? bleeding? etc.) of any pain or discomfort you sustained due to the accident; the full names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses. Also try to take pictures of the accident scene as well damage to the vehicles and property involved in the collision.
Hold your peace. Do not make any comments or statements of the facts of the accident with anyone other than the law enforcement officer(s) investigating the collision. Do not provide specific statements about pains or injury to anyone other than the law enforcement officers and medical/emergency personnel.
Seek medical attention. If you have pain or believe you have sustained an injury in the collision go to a local hospital or medical provider for an examination. It is better to be safe than sorry with respect to your health and physical well-being. It is important to have any injuries or complaints of pain documented, diagnosed, and treated by a medical professional. While there is no “48-hour rule” or other formal requirement as to when you must seek medical attention after a collision delaying medical attention can have negative effects on your injuries and possibly even any potential personal injury claim.
Get a copy of the accident report. Most collision reports are completed within 2-3 days of an accident. In Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point you can obtain free copies of your collision report online. Be sure to review the report and if there is an essential item of information that is incorrect you should contact the investigating officer to seek an amended report.
Contact the appropriate insurance company. If the wreck was not your fault and your vehicle is damaged or you were injured, call the at-fault driver’s insurance company to report your claim. There is no need to contact your insurance company unless the at-fault driver’s insurance company is being uncooperative in handling your claim or you desire to make a claim for medical payments under your policy. If your insurance company handles the property damage claim note that your deductible will be used. NOTE: If you think you may want a lawyer to handle your case contact a lawyer BEFORE you contact any insurance companies.
Contact a lawyer. Car accidents present many issues (property damage, diminished value, value of personal injury claim, liens and claims by medical providers, etc.) and you could truly benefit from having an experienced professional handle these issues on your behalf. You may not need a lawyer but why not contact one and make that choice after having a consultation? Most lawyers offer free initial consultations for personal injury cases. To schedule your free consultation regarding your personal injury case contact Attorney John O’Neal of the O’Neal Law Office.