I often speak about what not to do after an accident, but there are certain things you definitely SHOULD do after a car accident in the State of Washington to protect your claim, and to make sure you get the proper treatment for any possible injuries.
First, be safe. Your safety and the safety of your passengers should always be you top priority. If possible, leave the vehicles where they came to rest and stay inside. If you have to move your car, do so safely. The worst thing that could happen after an accident is getting hit again
Once you have established your safety, call the police. Always call the police. You may not think it’s a big deal at the time, but it could be more serious than you think. Call the police and let them decide if they want to come to the scene. They’ll probably ask if anyone is hurt. The truth is, you don’t know if you have been injured or not. Injuries from auto accidents often manifest days or even weeks after the accident. If you even suspect you have been hurt, let them know, and certainly don’t minimize. They may also ask about the damage to the cars. Again, unless you work in a body shop, you really don’t know how much the necessary repairs might cost. Describe the damage and don’t minimize.
If the police refuse to come to the scene, as is happening more and more, make sure you get as much information as possible. Use your camera. Use it a lot. Take pictures of the vehicles, the other driver and the scene. Take pictures of the other driver’s license. Make sure you get the name and contact information of any witnesses. These people might be essential to proving your case later. You’d be amazed how many clients come to my office who don’t have any contact information for the only neutral witness to the collision.
Finally, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Do it immediately if you can. There are several reasons for this. First, and most importantly, you need to rule out any serious injuries and get whatever treatment or medical advice you need. You might be hurt worse than you think you are, and you really need to get checked out. Secondarily, the fact that you seek medical treatment promptly after the accident will demonstrate to the insurance company, and possibly to a jury, that you took the accident and your possible injuries seriously. This will help your claim.
After you have reported the accident to the police and received necessary medical treatment, the most important thing you can do is to call an attorney experienced in handling auto accident cases. They can help you report the accident to your insurance company and get the claims process started. Most importantly, DO NOT speak to the other driver’s insurance company until you have first consulted with a skilled car accident lawyer. They are trained to get you to say or do things that might compromise your claim.
If you do these few simple things after a Washington motor vehicle accident, you will improve your chances of making a full recovery for your injuries.