Getting involved in a car accident can be a frightening experience. Not knowing the proper steps to protect your rights can be just as intimidating. The attorneys at Goldstein Bender & Romanoff would like to help alleviate that worry with some quick simple steps to take to ensure that your rights are protected.
First, immediately after the accident, make sure you are in a safe area where neither you nor the driver of the vehicle that hit you is in danger of being hit by other vehicles. Your safety from any further damage is paramount.
Second, make sure you get the driver’s license plate of the car that hit you. This will help protect you in the event that the driver that hit you tries to flee from the scene. After you have the license plate, exchange your information with the other driver.
Third, call the Police to the scene – no matter what. This is always the best course of action to protect your rights. The police officer is an independent witness who will make a report of what happened.
Fourth, take pictures (if you are physically able to) of both your vehicle and the defendant’s vehicle. These photos may assist you in proving that your version of the events is accurate.
Fifth, if you feel pain, request an ambulance. Yes, ambulances are expensive. Yes, your vehicle may not have that much damage to it and may still be driveable. However, an accident is traumatic and your adrenaline is pumping. You may underestimate the extent of your injury. Err on the side of caution.
Sixth, if you are physically injured, take pictures of your injuries. If injuries such as bruising, cuts that you had not initially noticed appear a few days after the accident, take pictures of them to ensure that you have preserved evidence of those injuries.
Seventh, inform your insurance company immediately of what happened. Your insurance policy probably requires you to report the accident within a certain period of time, and your failure to do so may serve as a basis for your insurance company to decline to help you. The sooner you do this to protect your rights, the better.
Eighth, gather all the information you have that relates to the accident, such as your discharge papers from the hospital, any medical bills you received, the police report, insurance information, and the identity of the other driver(s), and put them in a safe place.
Ninth, bring those documents with you when you consult with an attorney. Consult with an attorney who does not charge you for the consultation. The attorneys at Goldstein Bender & Romanoff have helped the injured for over 65 years and have never charged a client for a consultation. Not only that, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we only receive a fee if we win your case. There is never a down side to consulting with an attorney to see if you have a claim. An attorney will help protect your rights from the start, and will fully investigate the accident. The sooner you come into an attorney’s office to see if you have a claim, the better. Cases can be won or lost in the first few days after an accident.
Tenth, be mindful of social media. Insurance companies will often misconstrue your social media posts to argue that you are not hurt. Cases can be lost on what people post on social media. Pay attention to what your privacy settings are on social media to further help protect yourself.
Being involved in an automobile accident can be a traumatic experience. To make sure that your rights are protected, follow the steps above and don’t wait. If you ever have any questions or would like to see if you have a claim, we would love to help.
— Christine S. Kim