Automobile Accident Checklist
Involvement in an automobile accident can be a very traumatic and confusing experience. While obtaining immediate medical attention for injuries is the primary concern, it is also important to collect as much information as possible at the accident site. The following checklist provides an outline of the most important information that needs to be gathered after an accident in order to protect your legal rights. For help, contact the automobile accident attorney at Freeman & Freeman, LLP. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can answer questions and help you recover compensation for your injuries.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Do not hesitate to call 911 for medical help if anyone is injured. It is best not to try and move an injured person unless absolutely necessary. Explain the situation to the 911 operator and give the exact location of the accident. Be sure to mention whether an ambulance is needed. Remain on the phone until the operator tells you it is okay to hang up.
- Safely get out of the way of traffic. If your automobile is inoperable, turn on warning lights or open you hood.
- Call the police. If the automobile accident involves damage, injury, or death, the police should be called immediately.
- Obtain police officer information. Write down the name, badge number, and city of the officer’s jurisdiction.
- Obtain driver information. Once the injured have been helped, gather information about the other vehicles and drivers involved. Be sure to get license plate numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information. Include a description of the other vehicles involved.
- Obtain witness information. Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses to the accident. Be sure to ask any bystanders if they would be willing to give you their information in case you need them to verify the events that took place.
- Take photographs of everything involved in the accident. Ideally, pictures should include each driver, each automobile in the accident showing any damage, skid marks, damage to any other property, as well as the surrounding area and road from different angles. Also take pictures of any external injuries if possible. The more pictures the better.
- Create a diagram of the accident scene. Draw a diagram of the accident scene and label the positions of the vehicles, the direction they were traveling, and any traffic control devices. Take supporting pictures of the scene from various angles.
- Have a police report prepared and obtain a copy. If the police do not come to the scene of the accident, visit the nearest police station and fill out an accident report.
- Do not discuss the accident anyone other than your own attorney. Don’t discuss the accident with the other driver, their attorney, or any insurance company (even your own). Never give a written or recorded statement, unless it is under the advice of your attorney. Anything you say from the time of the accident until your case is resolved can be used against you in court.
- Contact your attorney. Contact your attorney as soon as possible after the accident. If you do not have an attorney, you should retain an experienced automobile accident attorney to protect your legal rights.
- Keep a log of time off from work due to the accident. This will help you establish damages such as lost wages and can be used in court as evidence.
- Keep a log of all medical appointments and treatments. Write down appointments with any health care providers that are related to injuries received from the accident. Include date, times, names of providers, treatment received, prescriptions, co-pays, etc.
- Follow through with all necessary medical care. Obtain all the medical help that you need for recovery, otherwise insurance companies and their lawyers will argue that you are not as badly injured as you claim.
- Do not sign any documents or releases without your attorney’s advice. Insurance companies and their attorneys will use any available means to reduce the amount of money they have to pay out. Consult your attorney prior to signing any documents related to the accident.
- Do not settle your case until all present and future medical expenses are known. Under California law, you are entitled to compensation for all past medical expenses as well as any future medical costs that you might reasonably incur.
- Keep copies of everything. In order to protect your legal rights, it is essential to keep a copy of all supporting information concerning the accident. This might include such things as police reports, medical documentation, witness information, SR-1 forms, lost wages, repair estimates and anything else that might support your case.