Do's and Don'ts If You Are Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident

by: Jay A Kaplan

According to transportation statistics, every fifteen minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle accident in the United States. Further, between the ages of 1 year old and 33 years old, a person in the United States is more likely to die from a car accident than any other cause.

Hopefully none of you will ever be involved in any type of motor vehicle accident. However, if unfortunately you are, it is necessary to know the do's and don'ts so that you can adequately protect your and your family's rights. Consequently, what you do even in the minutes or hours following an accident can have a tremendous impact on whether you are ultimately fairly compensated for your personal injuries and resultant damages. Therefore, it is critically important to be aware of what your rights are and what you are entitled to collect under the law. It is crucial to the ultimate success of your case to avoid making certain mistakes that innocent accident victims are unaware of but that insurance companies prey upon.

For instance, many victims, who are involved in motor vehicle accidents caused by others, initially may view it as a minor occurrence because they do not feel the immediate onset of pain or discomfort. As a result they choose not to make out a police report for that reason or because they do not want to wait around until the police arrive. In certain instances it may be is the police who arrive at the scene and discourage the making of a report and say that the parties should simply exchange insurance information. Under the law, in many states such as California if there is either a personal injury involved or even moderate property damage, the police are supposed to prepare a police report. In that regard, a police report can be crucially important as well as extremely helpful to your case when the other driver is at fault. A police report might not be conclusive proof of negligence but can certainly be a very persuasive evidence of fault.

In addition to asking for a police report to be prepared another do is to take pictures of the damage to all involved vehicles and their respective physical position at the scene of the accident. If photos are not taken, unfortunately, many defendants post accident attempt to escape responsibility for their negligence by dreaming up new and untrue versions of what they now claim occurred to dodge responsibility. Don't worry if you do not have a camera with you that is what cell phones are for.

Another important do is to obtain the name, address and phone number of any person who witnessed your accident. Accident victims often assume that the information concerning witnesses will be properly documented in the police report if in fact one is even prepared. Unfortunately, in certain instances even if the police have decided to prepare a police report it may or may not include the necessary witness information. As a result accident victims do not realize that the witness information was not documented properly until they receive the police report a few weeks later, at which time it is then too late to do anything about it. Even if you believe that it is obvious that the other party was at fault do not assume that the police actually documented it. Remember an independent witness can substantially assist your case by his or her statement if the defendant driver subsequently denies fault. Therefore do not forget to obtain witness information on your own.

Following an accident, it is important for your health, as well as the success of your case to document your injuries, and seek immediate medical attention. Many accident victims do not seek immediate transport to a medical facility because in many instances they are thinking that hopefully they are only experiencing minor discomfort that will quickly go away with two aspirins and a good night sleep. In fact, it is common for "whiplash" type injuries to not manifest themselves for a couple of days. Unfortunately by not properly documenting all of your injuries it plays into the hands of the insurance companies who realize that their insured's are completely at fault in causing the accident. As a result insurance companies are looking for any means that they can find to escape responsibly and save their companies from having to advance a significant payout. Consequently by not immediately documenting your injuries, pains and complaints and allowing a gap to exist between the accident date and first medical treatment it allows the insurance company to argue either that your injuries were minor and inconsequential or possibly resulted from another cause. The closer in time that you document your injuries and are evaluated by a competent medical provider, the easier it will be to prove that the injuries you sustained were a direct result of the negligence caused by the other driver.

Lastly do not make the mistake of talking to the other driver’s insurance company. If you are asked to do so either decline or call our office at no cost to yourself on our toll free number and we will gladly discuss the matter with you. In the over thirty years that we have been protecting the rights of injured accident victims we have never seen a statement given by an unrepresented accident victim to the defendants drivers claim agent that helped their case. In fact the insurance companies regularly consult their in house attorneys and ask in great detail what questions they should ask or not ask the victims of their insured's negligence. There is no legal obligation or requirement to give the other party's insurance company a statement so please Do Not give a statement.

Please feel free to contact our law office 24 hours a day at (800) 552-7526 or (800) 989-8116 if you have been involved in any type of motor vehicle accident whether it involves a car, truck or motorcycle, at absolutely no obligation or cost to yourself. If you decide to retain our law firm we work on a contingency fee basis and we only get paid if we successfully prosecute your case and obtain a settlement authorized by you or obtain a trial verdict on our behalf.

- Disclaimer -
This website is intended expressly for informational purposes only. The content included in this website is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Legal advice cannot be given without due consideration of all relevant information concerning your specific situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by viewing, downloading or making any other use of the website. The Kaplan Law Corporation in association with Stolpman, Krissman, Elber & Silver (SKES) represent clients only upon execution of a duly signed retainer agreement.