Many times clients call us about what to do after they have been in an automobile collision. Over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing, based on our experience representing thousands of injured people, some suggestions. So pay attention.
1. STOP YOUR CAR. Never leave the scene of an accident until all the police investigation work is done. Do whatever is necessary to warn oncoming traffic. Put out flares or reflectors if you have them.
2. GET HELP FOR ANYONE INJURED. If anyone has been hurt, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Don’t attempt first aid unless you are qualified. Don’t move an injured person unless it is necessary to save her life (i.e., fire).
3. CALL THE POLICE. Call 911 for the police, even if there were no injuries. Let them take over when they arrive. All collisions involving property damage greater than $1,000.00, or personal injury, are required to be reported within 15 days to the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles.
4. EXCHANGE INFORMATION. Obtain from all concerned and give your own information as to (a) names, (b) addresses, (c) driver’s license numbers, (d) auto registration numbers, (e) the names and addresses of each person in all cars involved, (f) the name of all drivers’ insurance companies, and (g) the name, address, and telephone number, of all possible witnesses. Do not comment on the cause of the collision; and do not admit any fault. Make notes as to how the collision occurred as soon as you are able, including drawing a diagram of the exact position of all vehicles involved, both before and after the collision, and measure skid marks by reference to landmarks such as telephone poles, etc.
5. CALL AND SEE YOUR DOCTOR. If you have any symptoms of injury, headaches, backaches, lacerations, possible fractures, etc., go to the emergency room. Then call and see your own doctor (PCP), as soon as possible. Tell the ER folks and your doctor, all of your symptoms, and what caused them
6. FILE ACCIDENT REPORTS. Get forms on line from the New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles (www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv); and file a written report within 15 days of the collision if there are any personal injuries, and/or car damage of $1,000.00 or more.
7. GET LEGAL ADVICE ASAP. If you or a family member is injured, also call your family lawyer ASAP. If you call us, we’ll provide you early, if not immediate, free office advice about your rights and obligations.
8. GET THE MEDICAL TREATMENT YOU NEED. You need to follow up with your doctor, and any specialist he/she may refer you to, also ASAP, to get an accurate diagnosis of your injuries and their cause; and start an effective treatment program. Otherwise, you may be in for months of life-interfering pain and disability. And without a correct and complete medical record, your lawyer will have difficulty dealing with the responsible insurance company for you.
9. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SUE ANYBODY. The fact that you consult with your lawyer doesn’t mean you are “suing” anybody. A good lawyer knows how to process your claim, and save you a lot of “pain and strain;” and always will be able to obtain fairer compensation for you than you can get on your own. Get the medical and legal help you need. It may save you and your family months of worry, and thousands of dollars.