A car accident is an event that is defined by confusion. No one plans to have a car accident. When it happens, even the smallest fender bender can be extremely frightening due to the disorientation a person experiences after a sudden and violent shock to the system. However, there are steps you can – and should – take after an accident to protect your health and your legal rights.
1. Call 911
Chances are you are not a doctor or nurse, and even if you are, you are not in a state of mind to assess your own injury, or the injuries of other parties involved. Let police sort out everything; that is their job. The most important thing is getting any injured parties, including yourself, the medical attention they need. If you are rushed to the hospital a police report will be filed. Do not speak to any insurance companies while hospitalized without representation.
2. Get a police report
Always ask for a copy of the police report or the report number that is being filed. Everything about the accident should be documented to the fullest extent of the law. The West Virginia DMV does not require a report unless there is damage in excess of $500, or someone is injured or killed. Make sure a report gets filed anyway. It’s important to note that while you may walk away from an accident feeling fine, over the course of the next day, week, or month, back problems or other injuries associated with the accident may develop. Diagnosing your injuries may require the use of x-rays, MRIs and other diagnostic tests. Because of these issues you may to need a report for your attorney and any associated insurance companies to show that an accident occurred.
3. Gather information
When we say gather information we mean everything. The policeman’s card, badge number, the plate numbers of vehicles involved, other party’s insurance information and anything else you think could be useful. If you aren’t sure, get the information. You never know what tiny piece of information could be important later.
4. See a doctor immediately
If you don’t need to go to the emergency room, make sure you still see a doctor within days of the accident. Get a copy of the report and keep it in a file with everything related to the accident.
5. Give it time
Insurance claims representative’s most important job is to get you to settle. It is extremely tempting when hours after the accident, you are feeling fine and an adjustor calls you to ask about your medical condition. They will offer tempting amounts of money to get you to settle immediately. Do not settle without consulting an attorney.
West Virginia law provides a statute of limitations for personal injury of two years. Speak to an attorney and do not settle without giving yourself plenty of time to ensure you haven’t suffered injuries.
6. Keep this list
When an accident occurs, chances are you won’t remember this list. Consider printing out this guide and storing it in your glove box in case an accident happens.