With around 88 percent of all American citizens owning cars, it is inevitable that at some point, we are likely to be involved in an accident. Thankfully, this is usually a relatively minor incident, such as a bumper scrape in a parking lot, or a case of misjudging a vehicle when reversing. Occasionally, however, we may find ourselves involved in a more serious incident. Before grabbing your phone and calling every car accident lawyer Cleveland Ohio, there are steps you should take to help protect yourself and your passengers, and ensure that you are in the best position should a claim occur.
Table of Contents
No matter how minor you believe the accident to be, it is crucial that you never drive away from the scene. Doing so could be considered a criminal offense, and the penalties can be severe.
Prevent Further Accidents
Assuming you are not badly injured, itis important that you do what you can to prevent further accidents from occurring. This may include setting up flares or warning triangles, activating your flashers to alert other drivers to your presence, or keeping a flashlight handy to warn other vehicles.
It is recommended that you and your passengers get out of the car if at all possible, and wait someplace safe. There is a risk that a stationary car may be hit by another vehicle, causing further injury. Remember that if someone is trapped or unconscious, you should not touch them under any circumstances until medical assistance arrives—they could have injuries which risk paralysis.
Call The Police
Even if there appear to be no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. Your insurance company will usually require a police report to proceed with your claim. Do not move any vehicles involved unless they pose a direct danger to other road users.
When the police arrive, give a truthful, factual statement to the best of your ability. If you are unsure of specific facts, make this clear and be honest. Never guess, lie or speculate, and be honest about the extent of your injuries. Injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions may not reveal themselves for a few hours, and shock and adrenaline can often mask the pain. Get yourself checked over as soon as possible, even if you feel fine.
It is very rare that you will be without a phone with a camera, so use this to take photos of any damage to your vehicle, as well as any injuries you have sustained. Remember not to interfere or get in the way of the police as they work.
You will need the name, address, and phone number of everyone involved in the accident, as well as insurance details. It is also a good idea to get the names and contact details of any witnesses in case you need them later.
Report The Accident
If the accident occurs on a state highway, you must request a report from the state police. You should also tell your insurance company as soon as possible, and prep your attorney in case any further legal action is required. It is a good idea to receive legal advice prior to making a statement for the insurance company.