Accidents happen, even to the best drivers. Knowing what steps to take following an auto accident in Fayetteville can make the experience a little less stressful. Following these steps can help you to protect yourself, your property and your legal rights.
At the Scene
Never leave the scene of an auto accident in which you were involved. Even if the accident seems very minor and no one seems to be injured. If you do not stop your car, you could find yourself involved in a criminal matter, even if the accident was not your fault. If anyone is injured, call for an ambulance. Do not attempt to provide first aid, unless you are qualified to do so. Otherwise, you run the risk of making the situation worse.
Call the police and notify your insurance company
Even when there are no injuries or the damage is minor, you should call the police. The most important reason is to make sure there is a police report created regarding the incident. Their accident report may be helpful later on, in case you are sued or you find the need to file your own lawsuit. You also need the police report in order to make an insurance claim. You should also notify your insurance company and/or insurance agent as soon as possible and cooperate with their investigation of the accident.
Exchange information with others involved
It is very important to exchange, at the very least, contact and insurance information with the driver of the other car(s) involved. If you can obtain contact information for any witnesses that may have stopped, that is a good idea also. Witnesses may be important for insurance claims as well as lawsuits, if any are filed.
Exchanging information does NOT mean discussing the possible cause of the accident or admitting fault. Even if you believe you were at fault, it may be that the other driver was equally, if not more to blame than you. It is also best not to say much immediately after an accident because you will likely be upset and not thinking clearly.
Seek medical treatment
Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem, you should seek medical attention as soon after an auto accident as possible. Be sure to report to the health care professionals that you were involved in an auto accident and describe exactly what happened and how you sustained your injuries. In many cases, victims of auto accidents do not feel pain or discover the full extent of their injuries until days later.
If you are injured or miss time at work
If, as a result of the auto accident, you sustain injuries or miss time at work, you may be entitled to damages from the other party to the accident, assuming they were at fault. You may also be entitled to damages under your own auto insurance policy. Be sure to submit copies of your medical and other related expenses to your auto insurance and to the insurance company providing coverage to the at-fault driver. If the person who caused the accident did not have insurance, you may be entitled to recover damages from the “uninsured motorist” coverage of your own auto insurance.
If you are not certain of your rights or responsibilities, you should consult a personal injury attorney promptly, as there are deadlines for filing a lawsuit based on personal injury.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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