A Quick Car Accident Checklist

Be sure to protect your interests in the event of a car accident by following these simple guidelines.

By Mark T. Freeley, Esq. (Open Post)January 6, 2012 at 2:58am

Here are some basics about what you should and shouldn't do if you become involved in a car accident.

First, always call the police so that a formal report can be prepared so that how the accident occurred, and the identity of the driver, owner and insurance company of the other car is properly documented.

This will make things go much more smoothly when trying to prove fault to obtain compensation for your car damage or bodily injuries. Do not let the other person convince you that they will "take care of it," or to "just go through the insurance." These are the first people to change their story when you leave the scene without making a report.

Make sure you copy down the name of the other person's insurance company and policy number. Make a note to yourself about how and why the accident occurred and any other important information while all the facts are fresh in your mind. Take photographs at the accident scene of the position of the cars, as well as the damage to each.

Also, obtain the name, address, e-mail and telephone number of all potential eye witnesses. If you are injured, you really should document your pain and problems as soon as possible by seeking medical attention. This will help to establish a causal connection of these injuries to the accident if later your injuries turn out to be more serious than you initially thought.

Call and report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Give them all the details and advise them if you have pain and are injured, and tell them every body part that hurts. Be sure to file a No-Fault benefits application form with your insurance company within 30 days of the accident date if you have pain and injuries. Your insurance company is responsible for paying all of your medical bills and loss of wages resulting from the accident regardless of whose fault the accident was.

Avoid speaking to the other person's insurance company. They represent the other person's interests, not yours. They will record your conversation and ask you many questions in an effort to help their interests. You can tell them where your car is located so that they can send an adjuster to inspect it, but that's it. Speak to an attorney before you proceed any further with the other person's insurance company, and please do not sign anything for them without an attorney reviewing it first as you could be waiving some of your rights.

If the accident involves a hit and run where the other vehicle leaves the scene, you must notify the police and have a report made within 24 hours. If the other vehicle was stolen or uninsured you should immediately notify your insurance company. In both of these cases, you should consult an attorney as you will have to make a timely claim with your insurance company.

These are just some general guidelines to follow after an accident, hopefully you will never need to use this checklist. Keep it safe out there.