You have just been involved in a collision and you have no idea what to do. It was very loud, it happened very quickly and there are a thousand things running through your mind at the same time. Am I hurt, is the other person injured, am I supposed to call the police?
The first thing that you need to do is try to relax and take a breath. You won’t be able to help yourself, or anyone else, if you are overtaken by anxiety. Next, take a mental inventory to see if, and where, you are injured. Start at the top of your head and quickly assess each body part down to your toes noting everything that feels painful, numb, or different in any way. Once this is complete, check your surroundings and make sure that it is safe to get out of the vehicle.
At this point, there a few small tasks that you can complete (if you are physically able to do so) that will help preserve your rights as you move through the claims process:
- Take pictures of everything that you can think of, starting with the other party’s vehicle and then your own. Take pictures of any dents, scratches or physical damages as well as the other driver’s license plate. Stand back far enough to get a picture of the entire scene and take a photo that depicts both vehicles in their final resting spot.
- Talk to the other driver and make sure that he or she is not injured. Assuming they are ok, ask them (nicely) what happened as they admit that it was their fault, that they were distracted or even that they were on the phone. Do not push, you do not want to get into a confrontation but if the occasion arises and you are comfortable doing so, see if they will talk to you.
- Call 911. Even if the damage seems minor and you don’t feel that bad, you will want an officer to document the incident. This will be important when you file a claim with your insurance for any property damage and, if your pain increases over the next hours or days you will want to make sure that the accident was properly reported.
- Seek out any witnesses who are nearby or who have approached the vehicles. Again, you just want to ensure that you get everyone’s contact information because people often leave before the police arrive and you want to be able to reach out to them later if necessary. Assuming you have your phone, take down their name, number, address and email (you might even text them so they have your name as well).
- Look around to see what homes or businesses are in the area and take pictures. If there are business establishments, look to see if there are any cameras that may have captured the collision so that someone can follow-up.
- Get medical care right away if you are injured. Following an accident, many people will assume that they are just sore and the pain will wear off after a little rest and relaxation. As the pain persists, and even increases, they decided to go to their doctor and it sometimes takes a week (or more) to get an appointment. This gap in treatment makes it more difficult to establish your injuries in a claim later on, and more importantly it forces you to suffer pain that could otherwise be alleviated through at simple trip to the doctor, hospital or urgent care.
- Contact an attorney that specializes in personal injury law. The law firm of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith offers free consultations by phone, in person and even by Zoom. Unlike other types of lawyers, our advice is free so you should feel free to contact us as early in the process as possible to ensure that your rights are preserved.
With these simple steps, you have the ability to gather evidence at the scene and seek medical care that will help you successfully navigate the personal injury process.
The law firm of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC has been assisting victims of negligence through South Florida for more than 95 years. Our attorneys are available to explain the claims process and answer your questions any time.