The number one priority that must be on your mind after being in a car accident, is whether you have been hurt and need medical attention. You can do a brief body exam in the moments after the car wreck, to assess whether you incurred any serious injuries. Gently touch your head, abdomen, and chest for pain or tenderness. Then, call 911 and inform them of the accident and whether you are aware of any physical injuries. In this way, you can get medical attention right away at the scene and taken to a hospital if needed.
Aside from your health and injuries, there are other priorities to consider when dealing with a car accident:
When the officer arrives, will he or she take a report of what happened?
Yes, the officer who gets to the scene should take an official report of the car accidents. It is their job to gather facts, such as you and the other driver’s information, street names, damage to vehicles, names of known witnesses, visual sketch of the accident, and other pertinent details.
Ask the officer for his badge number and report number so you can request a copy of this report when it’s ready. You can get a copy from your local law enforcement office. This report can be useful for your insurance company when reporting the accident, in addition to your lawsuit if you decide to pursue a civil case against the at-fault driver.
If there are witnesses, should I speak with them?
If you are of stable enough health, then yes you should approach witnesses nearby and ask them if you can have their name and two forms of contact. These people can be immensely helpful in proving that the other driver was at-fault, and that you deserve compensation as the victim in the crash.
Give your attorney these witness names and contacts, so he or she can reach out in the following days for an official statement. And while at the time they may have professed that you were the innocent party, their actual statement could have opinions that go against your side of the story. It’s best to have your attorney speak with them first to see if they would be beneficial or harmful to your case.
Will the officer take photos of the scene or should I?
Even if the officer recruited a photographer to take photographs of the accident and cars involved, you should also do the same if you have a camera or your phone has picture capabilities. If you don’t take photos, it may be difficult to track down these photographs afterwards. Your insurance company will need pictures as soon as possible so they can begin handling your claim.
Even if the quality of the pictures aren’t great, it’s better than having nothing. Photograph the scene, both vehicles, visible injuries, street signs, intersections, damage to other property, etc. Share these images with your car accident lawyer in Woodland Hills, CA so they can use it to support your claims against the other driver.
Thanks to Barry P. Goldberg for their insight into personal injury claims and your priorities after a car accident.