When it comes to you or a loved one getting in a car wreck or collision at some point in your life, the odds are not ever in your favor. When and if that time should come, there area few things you should know about how to handle the situation. I would recommend printing this blog out and keeping it in your glove box to have on hand if you are involved in a motor vehicle collision.
First and foremost, there are some items you should have in your emergency toolbox to truly be prepared. Always keep a camera in your vehicle even if it is just the one on your phone, flash lights, pads, pens, and reflective triangles and/or emergency flares are always necessities.
As you diligently stock your vehicle with the aforementioned items, check your auto insurance policy and ensure that your coverage includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage equal to your liability coverage, car rental coverall, collision and comprehensive coverage to handle damage to your own vehicle in the event you are hit by someone whose insurer refuses to promptly deal with damage to your property and person.
Lastly, have the checklist below on hand in the event of an auto accident:
- Turn your car engine off immediately after a collision to reduce the risk of fire.
- Turn on your hazard lights and, if appropriate,use flares and other warning signs to alert other drivers to the accident.
- CALL 911! Even if someone asks you not to report the accident. Montana law requires a party report damage to a vehicle that could be in excess of $1,000. See MCA 61-7-108. Even if damage does not appear to be that great, call anyway. Do not accept offers to settle for immediate payment at the scene, as it may not work out well for you.
- Take photos. One of the advantages of camera phones is that it is possible to take photos of the accident immediately before your vehicles are moved. Include photos of the damage to your and other vehicles, the accident location from multiple angles (with and without flash), and of people involved in the accident. Make observations of the other people involved, is there an odor of alcohol or marijuana emanating from the driver? Does their speech seem slow and slurred? Relay these observations to law enforcement immediately.
- If there are no major injuries and the vehicles are still operable, pull over to the shoulder of the road.
- Keep calm. Do not argue, make accusations, or admit fault.
- Nobody needs your social security number, do not provide it.
- Accept the offer of an ambulance ride if you have any injuries. Is your head hurting? Do you have neck pain? These could be indications of something serious. If you are injured, go to the emergency room and follow up with your primary care physician. Often, insurance companies will dispute your injuries because you did not immediately seek medical treatment. Your family and friends already know you’re a strong independent person, do not use this car crash as an opportunity to show them how macho and tough you are, take the help that is there.
- If another person is hurt, you may provide basic first aid, but do not move an injured person unless it is absolutely necessary to prevent further injury and unless you have substantial medical or lifesaving training and expertise.
- When an officer arrives on scene refer to instruction 6. Be cooperative. Provide complete and accurate information. Write down the officer’s name, badge number, police station address, and phone number. Be sure to inquire as to when the accident report will be filed and how you can get a copy.
- Do not leave the scene before other drivers and police officers do unless you are in an ambulance.
- Do not call an attorney from the scene, it will make you appear too eager. However, if there is a significant injury call us after you have received medical attention.
- Call your insurance company to begin the claims process as soon as possible.
Have you been involved in an automobile crash? Are you suffering from extensive person or property damage? Are you having a difficult time getting your insurance company to provide coverage. Contact the attorneys at Bryan, diStefano & Mattingley, PLLP today. They have extensive experience getting insurance companies to provide the coverage you are rightfully entitled to. Contact our office to set up your free consultation.