We have recently had an influx of people seeking treatment due to being in a car accident. Here are some tips, if you ever find yourself in this position:
At the Crash Scene
A. Safety First
When you are involved in a motor vehicle collision as the driver, passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian:
- Check drivers and passengers for injuries.
- Pull over as close and as safely as you can to the collision site and make sure the vehicle is turned off.
- Call 911. Report the collision, location, and injuries.
- Wait for the police to arrive. Do not leave. Insist that the other driver(s) remain at the scene. (Sometimes when the at-fault driver leaves the scene before the police arrive, he/she may change their version of how the collision occurred.)
- Do not move injured persons; wait until medical personnel arrive.
B. Cooperate with Police
- Remain at the scene until an officer arrives. Tell the officer how the collision happened. Cooperate and answer all their questions to your best ability. Fully describe the events that led up to the crash and those that followed afterward.
C. Record Information
- It is important to get as much information at the scene of the collision as possible. If necessary, ask a family member, friend, or witness to get this information for you if you are transported from the scene by ambulance.
- Write down the date, time and location of the collision. Make note of the road and weather conditions. If the police come to the scene, record the agency (e.g. city Police, county Police, or State Patrol), the officer’s name, and the incident number. (Investigation by a police officer will often result in a written report. This report, known as the Police Traffic Collision Report, has a reference number known as the incident number.)
- Record the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses. Copy the other driver’s information directly from his/her driver’s license. Make sure to record the driver’s:
- Name, address, and phone number
- Employer and work phone
- Make, model, and year of his/her car
- Name of the registered owner of the vehicle (if different than the driver)
- Insurance company name, agent name, and policy number(s)
- Driver’s injuries or pain complaints, if any
- Any statements the driver makes to you about the collision, even if it is simply, “I’m sorry,” or “I didn’t see you.”
- Write down a clear description of every vehicle involved and anything that may have contributed to the collision. (Tell these facts to the investigation police officer.)
- Make a sketch of the collision scene showing the direction of travel of all vehicles, position of the vehicles at the time of impact and the path of the vehicle from impact to stopping point. Note the location of skid marks and debris.
- Take photos of your car, your injuries, the collision scene, and the other vehicles involved at the scene.
D. After Leaving the Collision Scene
- If you have ever been involved in a collision, you know it is hard to remember to do everything needed. However, even if you have not made notes right after the collision, try doing so now. As time goes on, specific details of the collision become increasingly difficult to remember.
Important and Immediate Considerations
A. Seek Medical Attention
- If you are injured from a collision, it is in your best interest to seek medical attention as soon as any symptoms of achiness or pain appear.
- It is common to feel fine at the scene, only to develop pain over the next several hours or days. Do not wait to seek medical attention in the hope that the pain will resolve on its own. Don’t be silent. Be smart, for the sake of your health and potential claim.
- Are you aware that insurance claim representatives are trained to deny claims, and one of their common arguments is that the injured party did not seek healthcare immediately or shortly after the crash? They argue that if someone is injured, then they will seek medical care; if someone does not seek medical care, then they are not injured. In other words, if you do not seek medical care early on, be prepared for your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurer to argue that you were not hurt at all in the collision or that your injury was very minor.
B. Keep a Diary
- Describe how the collision, pain, and physical limitations affected your work, daily routines, recreational activities, and relationships with others i.e. activities that you used to be able to do with ease that now cause pain or limitations.
Adapted from: Addler, Richard H. From Injury to Action: Navigation Your Personal Injury Claim.