If you drive for any appreciable amount of time in Massachusetts or elsewhere, it is almost inevitable that you will be involved in a car accident, whether it was caused by yourself or by the negligent driving of another motorist. And, if you suffered any injuries in the accident, it is important that you follow certain steps so as to preserve your right to claim compensation for your injuries.
Steps to Follow After an Accident
If you collided with another vehicle, take these following steps:
- Stop immediately as you are required by law to remain at the scene of an accident in order to exchange licensing and insurance information with other involved parties. Get to a place of safety if your vehicle blocking traffic or is in danger of being struck unless someone in the vehicle appears seriously injured.
- If you are in traffic, put your flashers on and place cones or safety flares if you have them and get everyone out of the vehicle unless you or a passenger is seriously injured.
- Call 911—this is essential for your insurer may deny you coverage if you fail to do so and especially if you are the victim of a hit-and-run. You are also required to report an accident if the property damage was more than $500 or there was an injury. Police will investigate the accident and talk to the involved parties and any available witnesses. Get a card from the investigating officer that has a number for you to obtain a police or accident report.
- Give a general statement to police about the accident when requested.
- If police do not arrive, you are required by law to report the accident within 5-days and to file the report with the appropriate police department, your insurer and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). If you promptly retain a car accident attorney, your lawyer can file these reports on your behalf.
- Do not talk to anyone at the scene about the accident or how it happened other than exchanging information with the other party. You may have police obtain the information when they arrive, especially if you are injured or incapacitated.
- Take photos and videos of the scene, the involved vehicles, and the other party.
- Talk to witnesses and get their contact information if they are leaving the scene before police arrive.
- If the accident occurs in an urban or area where there are businesses present, many of these have surveillance cameras that may have recorded the accident. Either advise police or go to these businesses as soon as possible to see if such video footage exists since they are often erased within a day or so later. Traffic poles at intersections may also have surveillance cameras.
- Do not refuse medical attention at the scene even if you feel only slightly injured. Many injuries are soft tissue in nature or you may have suffered a head injury or concussion where symptoms often do not manifest until hours, days or even weeks later. By getting immediate attention, you are showing how serious your injuries were and was acting to minimize them. But if you refuse, you are giving a defendant’s insurer an excuse to allege you were not injured and are only claiming injuries after the fact so as to recover unwarranted compensation. After you get home, go to your primary physician as soon as you can.
- Contact your insurance company to inform them of the accident as soon as you can so as to preserve your claim for benefits or to defend you if you are allegedly at fault. You are only obligated to give your own insurer the date and time of the accident, its location, and the identity of other involved parties. You will be asked to explain what occurred but just inform your agent that you will be retaining a car accident attorney who will be in touch. Do not talk to the other party’s insurer but advise them you are retaining an attorney if they do call you for information.
- Do not give any statements to any insurer or investigator without the presence of your car accident attorney.
- Keep a record of the accident that includes any statements made by the other party or witnesses. Detail the injuries you sustained, all medical visits, medications taken, medical bills, lost time from work or school, and expenses related to your injuries. Describe what activities you are no longer able to perform along with sleeping and pain issues on a daily basis.
- Promptly retain a car accident attorney from Burns and Jain. Our attorneys will handle all aspects of your claim including ensuring your PIP benefits are paid, that the police report is obtained, and all relevant documentation is gathered before making a settlement demand.
Do not assume that you can handle the claim on your own. Too often, claimants jeopardize their claim by inadvertently making a comment that puts liability or damages in question, neglected to preserve certain evidence, failed to include other possible responsible parties, and failed to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. There are very few cases that are considered clear-cut or which are settled for what they are truly worth when solely handled by the claimant.
Damages in Car Accident Injury Claims
If injured in a car accident, you are entitled to certain damages:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Decreased income capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Only an experienced car accident attorney can demonstrate and support your claim for damages so that you can recover a reasonable settlement.
Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain
A car accident attorney at Burns and Jain can ensure that you have the best opportunity for a reasonable and satisfactory settlement if you suffered an injury in a car accident. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your claim.