You've just been involved in a car wreck. Your heart is pounding. Your mind is racing. You’re going to be late to work. Your car is totaled and now you have to get it fixed. You did not expect to be in the emergency room this morning. Now, you’re left wondering what to do.
Follow these 5 steps at the scene so you can protect yourself against the insurance companies–including your own.
Step 1: Call 911 (The Police)
Always call the cops.
Defense lawyers and insurance claims representatives and adjusters like to make a big deal when the police are not called or do not show up at the scene of a wreck. If there was no police report, defense lawyers and insurance company representatives like to argue that your injuries are not due to the wreck or the wreck was not that bad. We can counter these lies upfront by calling the police.
If your car cannot be safely moved or visible injuries are present, the police will likely come to the scene. Otherwise, they may tell you to exchange information and move on. However, make sure that you call the police and report everything that happened to the dispatch. It is important to call the police and make a record so that it can be called on later.
We all know that the police cannot come out to the scene of every wreck. However, that does not mean the wreck never happened or that no one was injured. If you did call the police, there will be a recording and transcript that shows you requested them to come out, but they refused. This is essential for your case.
Step 2: Take Pictures
Take pictures (and when necessary, videos) of the scene, your car, the other driver’s car, their driver’s license, their insurance card, and their license plates. You never know what will happen when everyone leaves the scene of a wreck. The other driver may have a false ID or expired license plates. They may not be insured. If you take pictures of only your car, the other driver may have their vehicle fixed before anyone can document the damage.
Taking a picture of the license plates will help offer proof to responding officers in the event that the driver takes off to avoid being confronted by the police. Be sure to scan the area and photograph evidence such as beer cans, liquor bottles, paraphernalia, or other physical evidence that may be linked to the wreck or the at-fault driver.
Taking photos and videos allows you to preserve evidence by capturing exactly what everything looked like on the day and in the moments after the wreck. Maybe you’ll never need them, but if you do, you’ll be grateful that you took the time to gather this evidence.
Step 3: Get Witness Information
If anyone is in your vehicle, stops for you, or is around the scene of the wreck, make sure to get their contact information. You will need their full name, phone number, email address, and (if possible) mailing address. This may become vital later on.
You might think “Wouldn’t the police officer write down all this information in their report?” Sometimes they do; most times, they do not. We have heard a bunch of reasons for this - they may not have had the time to write it down, or the witnesses may have left by the time the police arrived. The people you thought were witnesses might not have wanted to give their information to a police officer, like they would to you. Regardless, you must take matters into your own hands if you want to sure that witness information is preserved. Again, like with photos, you may never need these witnesses, but if you do, you will be glad you have their information.
Step 4: The Exchange
Always get the other driver and any passengers’ contact information. This will become vital when you are sorting out insurance information, responsibility, and figuring out what happened. Many times, we forget to take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card. This is important because if there is no police report or record of it, how can you make a claim? At the very least, you should write all their insurance information down. Don’t leave out any details.
Step 5: Keep These Steps
Most of the time, people do the right thing. But when they don’t, you need to be prepared. Make a copy of these steps and keep them in your car.
At the Button Law Firm, we believe the best way to be protected is to be prepared. Hopefully, you and your loved ones are never in a car wreck. However, if you are and need somewhere to turn, you can always reach out to us and our auto accident attorneys. Get the information you need to be informed. We are here for you.
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