Protect Yourself: 6 Steps to Take After Car Accidents
April 28, 2014
While you may be a safe and responsible driver, you can’t control the actions (or sobriety) of other motorists on the road. Unfortunately, this means that you are likely to get in at least one car accident about every 5 years (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
Immediately after car accidents, knowing what to do and thinking clearly can be elusive, especially if you or someone you love may be injured. However, if you keep the six simple steps discussed in this two-part blog in mind and are able to carry them out after car accidents, you can protect yourself and preserve your rights to compensation for your injuries, property damage and other losses.
Call police – Although you don’t necessarily need to call police if you have gotten into a really minor fender bender with another driver, when more significant damage has been caused by car accidents, it’s always a good idea to call police – even if you don’t think you are injured or if the other motorists involved in the accident seem to be cooperative.
Calling police and having them at the scene of the accident can be important for a number of reasons, some of which include that:
- They can help guide traffic around the accident.
- They can facilitate the exchange of information between the involved parties.
- There will be an official police report associated with the accident (and this can be important evidence later, especially when it comes to proving fault in the collision).
2. Exchange info with the other drivers – As you wait for police to arrive at the scene or to finish their investigation of the accident, take this time to collect some essential information from the other drivers involved in the collision. Some important info to collect can include:
- Other drivers’ full legal names and contact information (phone numbers and possibly even email addresses)
- The make, model and driver’s license plate number of each involved driver’s vehicle
- The insurance carrier for (and specific auto insurance policy number of) each involved driver
- The driver’s license number of each involved driver.
- Consider collecting this information with your smartphone so you can email it to yourself (and, therefore, have an electronic copy that won’t get lost as easily).
3. Get witnesses’ contact info – In addition to getting other motorists’ information, you should also collect information from anyone who may have witnessed the accident. For witnesses, it’s usually only necessary to collect their full legal name and their phone number (or preferred method of contact).
4. Take pictures – This is a crucial step that can save you a lot of headaches in the future. Use any camera you have available (cellphone cameras can make this step very easy), and take as many pictures as you can of the damage caused to your vehicle, other involved vehicles, surrounding objects that may have been involved in the wreck and potentially even the injuries you or your passengers sustained in the accident.
These photos can be critical evidence in the future, as they can help support your contentions regarding who may have been at fault in causing the accident and the level of damage caused by it.
As with the information you have collected from other motorists, it’s usually a smart idea to email the pictures you have taken to yourself so that you have a backup copy of them in your inbox that is easily accessible from any location.
5. Call your insurer – In many cases, auto insurance policies have specific terms regarding how soon after traffic accidents the policyholder is required to contact the insurance company and report the accident. Make sure you know this time frame and that you call your insurer as soon as is reasonably possible after the collision to report it.
Things to inform the insurer about will be the facts of the collision, namely:
- Where the accident happened
- When the accident happened (the date and time)
- The involved parties (and all of their insurance/contact information)
What you should not do when discussing the collision with your insurance company is accept any fault for causing the car accident. Admitting that you may have contributed to the collision (even in part) can substantially hurt your claims to compensation later.
6. Call the Savage Law Firm – If there is only one thing you are able to do after car accidents, make sure that it is to call the Portland car accident lawyers at the Savage Law Firm. The fact is that, after car accidents, you will likely have to fight insurers for the full amount of compensation you deserve, and having an experienced advocate on your side will be critical to ensuring you get the payouts you need and deserve so that you can focus on recovering.
Portland Car Accident Lawyers at the Savage Law Firm
For more than three decades, the Portland car accident attorneys at the Savage Law Firm have been devoted to providing each of our clients with personal attention, respect and the highest quality legal services. This means that each of our clients can always rely on us to:
- Aggressively defend their rights to both justice and compensation
- Help them tell their stories in court
- Stand up to insurers and others outside of the courtroom to ensure that they are able to obtain the settlements they deserve.
Portland & Seattle Lawyers
Helping you recover from the financial setbacks caused by traffic accidents is one of our primary goals. Our Portland car accident attorneys encourage you to learn more about your rights and case by setting up a free initial consult. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.
To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page.