WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT
FIRST, DON'T PANIC
If you’re in an auto accident don’t worry about how the accident will affect your insurance rates. If you are not at fault, the accident will not affect your rates at all. (Even if you are at fault, you have a legal obligation to remain on the scene.)
Print these tips out and keep the following guide handy in your glove compartment for emergencies:
- Call an ambulance if anyone needs medical attention.
- Call the police, even if it doesn’t seem like anyone was injured. Let the police take all of the information from all witnesses and drivers.
- Write down the name and badge number of the responding officers.
- If a tow truck suddenly appears which you did not call (there are often tow trucks driving around with short wave radios tuned into police communications), be sure you determine how much the charges will be and where they will be taking the vehicle.
- Report any and all aches and pains to the police officer and to the people at the emergency room. Sometimes, an ache or a pain that seems minor at the scene of the accident gets worse and turns out to be more serious than they seemed to be.
- As soon as you can, take pictures of any visible damage to your vehicle and any visible injuries. Don’t count on the insurance companies or the body shop to take or save photos.
IF POLICE DON'T COME TO THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT
- If the police don’t come to the scene of the accident, write down the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, owners name, and insurance company of the other driver (if the other driver does not own the car.)
- Be sure that the other driver shows you the actual drivers license and owners card. Don’t "take their word for it" regardless of how honest they seem.
- Obtain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses including all passengers in the other car.
- Write down the other car’s make, model, year, and license number.
- As soon as possible after the accident, draw a diagram of the accident. Show the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If possible, measure skid marks, and show them on the diagram. Be sure your diagram shows traffic signals, stop signs, and crosswalks.
- Make notes on weather conditions, road conditions, the location of the accident, and the time that it occurred.
- Take as many photos as you can of the scene and the damage to both cars. Don’t only take a picture of the damage itself, also take photos from various distances from the car so you can see exactly where on the vehicle the damage is located.
- Call in a report to the police within 24 hours since your policy will likely require that you do this.
- Notify your automobile insurance company within 24 hours, or as soon as you are able to do so. Your company may not be responsible to make pay benefits until they have been properly informed of the facts and circumstances of the accident.
- It may be beneficial to contact an attorney, to advise you of your rights and provide assistance in dealing with the insurance companies.
- You should avoid any contact with the responsible parties insurance company until you have had the opportunity to become fully aware of your rights.
DON'T SIGN A RELEASE BEFORE YOU SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY
If you are injured in an accident that is someone else’s fault, you may find that you are quickly contacted by the other party’s insurance company. Many of these companies will often attempt to persuade you that they have your best interests at heart.
If you are injured in any type of accident and an insurance company of the person that injured you calls you or writes to you, tell them you first want to talk to an attorney first. Insurance companies want you to settle your case before you have time to determine the full extent of your injuries. If you sign a release and it turns out that you accepted less money than your injuries are worth, you will not be able to change your mind later.
If you have a legal problem or questions, you don’t have to come into our office. We offer free phone consultations. Please call us at 610-859-3700 or email us and talk to an experienced Philadelphia lawyer today.
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