What do I do if I've been in an accident?
Updated: May 7, 2019
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may have questions or concerns as to how fault is determined. At times, fault is clear, like in rear-end collisions. Even then, at fault drivers may blame the vehicle he or she collided with by alleging “brake checking” or an improper or abrupt stop. Other accidents where liability is less clear may involve left turns and whether the bullet vehicle entered the intersection on a yellow or red light. These types of cases are fact sensitive and turn on the credibility of the respective drivers or third parties, e.g., eye witness testimony of a passenger or independent witness.
What to do immediately after the collision? Assuming you are able, dial “911” and request immediate assistance. Take an inventory of yourself and others to ensure no immediate life threatening injuries. If not life threatening and your vehicle is operational, do not move your vehicle until police have arrived to investigate and document the collision (if not moving your vehicle creates an immediate hazard to others and/or yourself, capture the accident scene with your phone camera or video and then move yourself and your vehicles to a safe location). If anyone witnessed the collision, it is imperative that you kindly request s/he stay until the police arrive in order to provide a statement. If that is not possible, get a name and number. If the witness refuses to provide a name and number, take down a license plate number for future reference, whether by hand or with the digital capabilities of a smart phone. The determination of fault can turn on evidence at the scene and an independent witness. If no available witnesses, but for the dueling testimony of the two drivers involved in the collision, check with surrounding businesses to see if they have security cameras that captured footage of the collision. Unless a business is put on notice to preserve video footage, it could be permanently lost since most systems replace old footage with new footage due to lack of memory capacity.
Why is this important to you and your case? It is not uncommon for insurance companies to blame you for the collision, as discussed above, and deny liability. A skilled bodily injury lawyer will have experience dealing with insurance companies the their legal counsel and, with accurate and credible evidence, prove you are not at fault. If you have been harmed by another, whether in a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or auto-pedestrian collision, contact an attorney immediately to know your options and rights. Bodily injury attorneys work for a contingency fee, and you will not be charged or billed if the case lacks merit. And, if you do have a meritorious case, a bodily injury lawyer does not get paid until you get paid. If your case does not prevail in settlement or verdict, you should pay nothing. On this point, speak to more than one personal injury attorney and or law firm so you know your options and you are comfortable with your choice of counsel.