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10 Things You Should Do if You Have Been Involved In An Automobile Accident

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If you have been involved in an automobile accident, there are a number of things you can do to preserve your legal rights.  First and foremost, you should not delay in consulting your lawyer if you have been injured or have suffered property damage as a result of an automobile accident.  Beyond that, the following is a summary of some of the most important things you can do to protect your legal rights:   


1.  Do not leave the scene.  If you leave the scene of an automobile accident, you may be criminally prosecuted.   

2.  Help the injured.  If someone has been injured in the accident, you should call for paramedics and assist them to the extent you are qualified.  When calling for the ambulance, be prepared to give an accurate location of the accident and assessment of the number of individuals injured.

   3.  Avoid additional collisions.  Make sure your vehicle is not presenting a hazard to other motorists.  It should be moved so that it is not obstructing traffic, if possible.  You can further notify oncoming traffic to proceed with caution by setting out flares, turning on your hazard lights, and raising the hood and trunk of your vehicle.

   4.  Notify the police.  Typically the police will prepare a report that contains various information concerning the accident and the parties involved.

   5.  Do not admit liability.  You should not admit responsibility for the accident to the other drivers, passengers, or to the police for that matter.  You may convey facts concerning how the incident occurred; however, responsibility (or liability) for the accident is a legal matter that is not always readily and easily ascertainable.  Judgment as to who was at fault should be reserved for a later time.

   6.  Obtain information.  You should get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any individuals involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses to the accident.  You should also obtain the name of the insurance company and policy number of the other drivers involved.  If possible, you may take photographs to document the accident scene including skid marks, road obstructions, and damage to the vehicles. 

7.  File an accident report.  In many jurisdictions, one must file an accident report within a specified period of time after the accident.  You may ask the officers at the scene or consult an attorney to advise you as to whether the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred requires that you file a report.

8.  Notify your insurance company.  If you do not give your insurance company prompt notice, your policy may provide that the insurance company may deny coverage for your claim.  Accordingly, you should give your insurance company notice by way of telephone and by written notice that provides you a means of proving such notice was given, such as by facsimile or by certified mail.  You should provide your insurance company with all information they request concerning the facts of the accident.

9.  Consult a doctor if you have been injured.  If you believe that you may have been injured in the accident, you should consult a doctor.  Some injuries may not manifest themselves until some period of time after the accident; therefore, the mere fact that you do not immediately feel as though you have been injured does not necessarily mean that no injury has occurred.  You should consult your insurance agent to see if the cost of seeing a doctor in connection with the accident is covered by your insurance policy.  You should not settle your claims for injuries arising from the accident until you have been advised by your doctor as to the full extent of your injuries. 

10.  Contact your attorney.  You should consult your attorney promptly to be advised as to your legal rights.  you have a two-year statute of limitation period in which you must file a lawsuit or be forever barred from bringing such a claim.  Fact-sensitive exceptions to this rule may apply; therefore, an attorney should be consulted as soon as possible.  Furthermore, by promptly notifying your attorney, your attorney may timely investigate the facts surrounding your accident while the events are fresh in witnesses' minds, and the evidence is capable of being documented by way of photograph or otherwise.






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