10 Things to Do After a Motor Vehicle Accident
Last year there were 12,538 car accidents in Outagamie, Winnebago and Brown County. In July 2019 alone there were more than 1,000. The chances you or a family member will be involved in an accident are high. Would you know what to do? Here are the 10 things you should do.
- CALL THE POLICE – Regardless of the severity, it is essential you contact local law enforcement to ensure the police can investigate the accident and secure all relevant evidence. The police will interview the witnesses, both those involved and those who were nearby, and record those names and contact information for your use if you later have a claim.
- STAY WHERE YOU ARE – Do not move your vehicle. It is important to leave your vehicles as they are. That is important evidence for the police to document, and it prevents the at-fault party from lying about how the accident occurred. The location of the vehicles may be relevant for determining who crossed the centerline, who struck whom, or even who had the right of way. Leave your vehicle where it is and do not move until the police tell you to.
- DO NOT DECLINE MEDICAL ATTENTION – The fear and anxiety of an accident can obscure your perception of your own pain. Frequently claimants deny medical attention on the scene, telling officers they “feel fine”, ultimately returning to the emergency room later the same day or even a few days after. Insurance companies take advantage of that denial. It is better to get checked out just to make sure you are fine. Your physical health is the most important consideration!
- TAKE PHOTOS – Take photos of the scene, take photos of your vehicle, take photos of the at-fault driver’s vehicle, get it all! Photos of the scene and photos of the vehicles can help a jury understand what happened. Photos can show the weather conditions at the time, the position of the vehicles and the damage caused by the impact.
- LOOK FOR VIDEO CAMERAS – Nowadays video cameras are everywhere. They are on local businesses, at intersections and even on the officer’s bodies. It is a good idea to look up and look around the scene in order to determine whether a camera might have recorded the accident. Video of the accident will likely trump any misinformation given by a witness. Know where video might be will help your attorney gather critical evidence. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, a video can be worth millions.
- WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING – If you do not have pen and paper handy, use the “Notes” app on your phone, but make sure you document everything. Memories fade fast and perceptions change. Your best shot at getting things correct is documenting it immediately. Write down exactly what you remember, and even the things you don’t know. What was the last thing you remember before impact? What was the first thing you recall after the accident? Did you lose consciousness, or just feel foggy? Write it down!
- GET THE AT-FAULT DRIVER’S INSURANCE INFORMATION – All Wisconsin drivers are required to have a card bearing information related to their insurer. The police will check that card, and typically note the name of the insurer on the accident report. Ask the officer if he can email you a photo of that card. At the very least ask the officer to obtain not just the name of the insurer, but the policy number and effective dates. Requesting that the officer to check for this information will help an officer verify that the information given is valid and current.
- FOLLOW DOCTOR’S ORDERS – The medical professionals at an emergency room are trained to treat a myriad of problems in a general manner. They will frequently discharge you with orders to follow-up with your Primary Care Physician. Do it! It is best to do exactly what the doctors order to avoid an insurance company taking advantage of your failure at a later date. Protecting your rights is important, but your health is of primary concern.
- SPEAK TO NO ONE – Following an accident you will receive calls from your insurer, from the at-fault driver’s insurer and even from your own health insurer. These people are looking at protecting their interests, not yours. A qualified injury attorney will manage these contacts for you. If not, you’ve hired the wrong law firm.
- CALL AN ACCIDENT ATTORNEY – We are frequently asked “when should I call an attorney”. The answer is immediately. By contacting a Fox Valley injury attorney as soon as possible, you have given your attorney the opportunity to secure the necessary information and make the proper connections to preserve your claim in its best form. There may be unique circumstances to your case that need immediate attention, or an overly aggressive insurer looking to trick you into settling your claim for a nominal payment. If you are unsure whether your injuries are severe enough to require an attorney, leave that to a professional to figure out. A reputable law firm will talk you through all the facts and help you understand your claim at no cost to you.
At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we proudly serve the people of Green Bay, Appleton and Oshkosh and all of Northeast Wisconsin focusing on client care and maximizing their financial recovery. Our clients know exactly what they are facing and they know we stand beside them sparing no effort, no matter the size of their claim.