What should I do when I’ve been involved in a car wreck?

If you have been involved in a car accident you should consider the three major points.  I will address all three of these major points separately, but to keep it simple the three major points are:

  1. Health;
  2. Information;
  3. and Legal

It almost seems like common sense, and it is!  However, many of us panic when we are faced with these types of situations, especially if there is a medical emergency or injury.  The first thing you should do when an accident occurs is make sure that you are physically okay.  Easy enough, right?  Take into consideration that your adrenaline may be pumping, and you may not even realize you’re injured.  After you make sure you still have all of your fingers and toes, then check on other people involved in the accident.  Call 911 for medical assistance and police immediately.  You should never leave the scene of an accident.  Leaving the scene is a crime in Mississippi and punishable by jail time, fines and other potential penalties.  Make sure you are not in the middle of traffic and that you and your vehicle do not pose any safety risk to other drivers on the road and yourself.

Second, you should begin taking photographs.  The positioning of vehicles, intersections of roadways, skid / tire marks, weather conditions, lighting, time of day and general surroundings are very important.  Almost everyone has a phone with the capability of taking many photographs.  Also, you could consider video recording or audio recording witnesses for their statements.  Make sure you get names, addresses and phone numbers of any potential witnesses.  Make sure that you get the same information from the other driver and passengers, including insurance information of the driver, license plate numbers, makes and models of vehicles involved in the accident and location information.  If someone is acting belligerent, it may not appropriate for you to obtain the information.  Do not risk safety over information gathering, simply allow the police to do this once they arrive.  An accident report will be created by the officer working the accident.  You should be able to obtain this online or at the department.  Take note of the officer’s name and division where he or she is employed.  Report the accident to your insurance company – you may want to consider talking with your attorney before you do this.  Exercise caution when you are discussing the accident to anyone other than your attorney.  You can always arrange a time to schedule an interview for your statement.  I often do not allow my clients to provide a statement to at fault driver’s insurance company because it can cause problems to an otherwise clear-cut case

Finally, consider contacting an attorney to go to work right away.  Many personal injury attorneys work on contingency type arrangements for car wrecks.  This means you get the advantage of the attorney’s previous experience, investigatory resources, legal opinion, research tools, past experience and relationships with insurance companies and their attorneys.  An experienced lawyer will know exactly what information you need to obtain and when it should be obtained.  Don’t wait until it’s too late!  If it does not cost you any money to obtain an attorney, do it!  There aren’t many occasions where you will get one at no cost up front!