What should I do after a car accident?
In 2015, more than 122,000 Oklahomans were involved in a car accident. With the increasing popularity of cell phones, those numbers are expected to increase. However, the simple fact is many otherwise deserving Oklahomans receive no or mimimal legal compensation for their injuries because they do not take the right steps in the days and weeks after their wreck. If you are one of the many Oklahomans who were the victim of someone's negligent driving, there are steps you can take to protect your right to compensation.
Step 1: Be Prepared
The first step to protecting yourself after an accident starts long before you hit the road. You should carry with you an accident kit. While commercial kits can be purchased, you can also make your own. You should, at minimum, have a cell phone with a camera (or a separate camera), paper for taking notes, a pen, your insurance information, and a medical card with information about your medical condition/allergies. You may also want to keep a first aid kit, as well as the contact numbers for local law enforcement agencies. Finally a comprehensive kit should include a flashlight, warning cones and a set of emergency flashers/flares. This equipment will come in handy if you are involved in an accident.
Step 2: Take Care of Your Well-being and the Well-being of Others
After an accident, your first concern should be your well-being, the well-being of passengers in your car, and the well-being of anyone else involved in the accident, including the driver and occupants of the vehicle that caused the wreck. If anyone is injured from the incident, call an ambulance right away. You should also call the police immediately.
Drivers involved in minor accidents may want to move their vehicles to the side of the road. This helps avoid oncoming traffic. While we do not discourage moving vehicles if needed to avoid additional accidents, we suggest you first take photographs of the vehicles' positions on the road before moving them. ONLY GET OUT OF YOUR CAR TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS IF YOU ARE SURE IT IS SAFE TO DO SO, and DO NOT leave your vehicle in an unsafe position just to take photographs. Whether or not you choose to move your vehicle, remain in your car until officers arrive.
Step 3: Exchange Information
Once you have obtained the appropriate medical treatment (if necessary) and officers have arrived at the scene, you should take the following actions:
- Obtain the contact information, license, and insurance information from all other motorists involved in the wreck;
- Determine whether there were any other witnesses to the wreck. If so, obtain their and write down their information as well as a brief statement about what they saw. If possible, do not depend on the police officers to obtain witness information.
- Take photographs of the vehicles involved, the scene of the wreck and, if possible, of the people involved.
- Take notes of what you see, what people say to you, what you say to others.
Stay calm. Think before you speak.
Step 4: Contact an Attorney
As soon as you are able to do so, contact a lawyer. In the meantime, do not give statements or other information to the other driver's insurance company. At Accident and Disability Lawyers of OKC, we can help hold those who have hurt you or your family accountable for their negligent actions. Call us at 405-759-0515 to discuss your case.