The first thing you should do is just make sure that you and your family are okay. If anyone’s been injured, you want to make sure to get immediate medical treatment at an area hospital. In order to get treatment, you may be taken by ambulance or take your family to the hospital yourself. The next thing you should do is contact law enforcement. The law enforcement officer can come and make a report of the accident. The third thing you should do is to do an exchange of information. That’s where you and the other driver exchange information, such as your insurance company information, name, and contact information, like a phone number. That information may be on the accident report, and if the law enforcement did come to the scene, they will give you a short-form version of the accident report.
The next thing you should do, and this is perhaps one of the most important things, is to document the scene. What that means is, if you have a phone or camera, take photos of the accident scene. That includes damage to the vehicles, if there’s any debris on the roadway, take pictures of the area where the accident occurred so that you have some information, such as the weather and what the day was like that day. Other documentation may include trying to determine if there’s any witnesses in the area. So, other drivers may have pulled over, and if you can get their name and other contact information, that may be very important, as well. You may write some notes to yourself, almost like a journal, so that you can remember how you felt that day and any details of the accident, because you might be asked about those at a later time. The fifth thing that you should do is to contact an attorney. This may be important to help you understand your rights. You’re not obligated to hire an attorney. Most attorneys will give you a free case review, but it’s very important to know what your duties and responsibilities are and what your legal rights are in connection with this accident.
Next, we’ll talk about whether you’re required to talk to the insurance companies involved in this accident. There are typically two insurance companies, your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. Under most circumstances, you’re required to talk to your own insurance company, and you want to do that anyways in order to establish the medical payment claim under your PIP policy, but you may also want to determine information about your UM. If the other driver didn’t have any insurance or is under-insured, then you want to make a claim for your under-insured motorist coverage, and then you just generally want to talk to your insurance company to make sure that you’re satisfying all your obligations under your contract with them.
Then, there’s the issue as to whether you’re required to talk to the other driver’s insurance company, and there may be reasons why you don’t want to give what’s called a sworn statement to the other driver’s insurance company. To go into more detail about that, I encourage you to watch our other video about sworn statements. If you’d like to talk to someone and get a free case evaluation, then please give us a call at 850-898-9904.