The moments, hours and days following a motor vehicle accident are often hazy and confusing. You have concern for the condition of your loved ones and uncertainty about what to do next. Being injured, and in pain, may compound your confusion.
While being in this condition is certainly not the time to be making important decisions, you may nevertheless face many questions. Difficult as it may be, making the right decisions immediately following a traffic accident may be crucial to your family’s well-being.
First things first
Of primary concern is your health and the health of those in your vehicle. Accepting medical attention is wise since injuries related to car accidents are not always evident right away. When your adrenaline settles and your body relaxes, you may begin to experience symptoms of serious injury that a medical exam may have detected sooner.
In addition to protecting your health, seeking medical care also provides you with a record that a medical professional treated you. This may be important if you need to file a claim with an insurance company or if you decide to file a civil lawsuit against the other driver.
As much as you are able, there are steps you can take after an accident to improve your chances of obtaining a fair insurance settlement or of convincing a civil court that you deserve compensation. Some important things you can do include:
Call the police: A police report will be helpful to your insurance claim as well as any legal claim. Make a note of the name of the officer who takes the report.
Get information: Obtain the name, address, driver’s license number and phone number of all drivers involved in the accident. Get the insurance policy information and contact information of any passengers in the other vehicle.
Get more information: Ask for names and phone numbers of anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
Finally, you can’t take too many pictures at an accident scene. Photograph both cars from every possible angle, including inside. Take pictures of the road and environmental factors. If you can, take pictures of yourself and others in the vehicle to document your injuries.
‘My bad’ is bad
It may be instinctive for you to say you are sorry, even if you haven’t done anything wrong. However, this is not the time to apologize. Even an expression of sorrow for someone’s pain may be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Taking blame for an accident, even if you are convinced you are at fault, may be financially devastating. After all, you don’t know how much the actions of the other driver contributed to the accident.
Since Ohio is an at-fault state with comparative negligence laws, you would be wise to refrain from speaking to an insurance adjuster or admitting fault until you speak to your attorney.