You never want to think about getting in a crash, but like any possible emergency, it’s important to know what to do in the event the unexpected strikes – like knowing how to put out a grease fire, perform CPR, or administer minor burn relief. It is similarly important to know what to do to protect yourself legally in the event you are in a car, motorcycle, or truck crash.
– Get out of harm’s way (if you are able) and call 911 to get responders to the scene. If you are able, check on others and ensure they are getting medical attention.
– Make no statements at the scene of the accident. This is your right under the Fifth Amendment! You can give your name, phone number, and other identifying information, but say nothing regarding how the accident unfolded to the police or others at the scene. We understand that “saying nothing” is easier said than done; you may be under pressure to describe how the events unfolded, particularly if you believe you are not at fault or if the other party in the accident is a chatterbox.
Saying the wrong thing, even by mistake, can reduce your right to recover damages, or worse, eliminate your right to collect an award altogether. Simply tell the officers and others that you are not in a condition to make a statement at that time (due to stress or injury). Assure those on site that you will be happy to make a statement at a later time after you have received medical attention or spoken to an attorney.
Once medical help is en route:
– Look around and find witnesses. Record the names and contact information of all witnesses. If you are physically unable to collect others’ names but have someone with you who can, have them do it. Do not assume that the police will collect names for you. Many times, the investigating officer assumes the case against the defendant is clear and, therefore, does not record the names of witnesses. This can complicate your case if the defendant’s insurance company determines that you are either solely or partially at fault.
– If you are involved in a tractor-trailer crash, be sure to get photos of the license plates and USDOT numbers – these are usually found on the driver-side door. Take multiple pictures of the tractor trailer and the driver.
– Take photographs of the accident scene to include the location of the vehicles involved and any debris in the road. Make sure to take both close-up photos and photos at a distance (wide shots) for various perspectives.
– Do not give a statement to any insurance company (the defendant’s or yours) without first consulting with an attorney. Do not call your insurance company until you have spoken to an attorney.
– Seek medical attention and make the medical professionals treating you aware of all pain that you are experiencing regardless of how minor.
– Do not share photos or discuss any aspect of the accident on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc) and do not text about your injury or the accident unless absolutely necessary. Insurance companies routinely surf social media and mobile devices in order to find information that they can use to attack your credibility.
Knowing how to react in a crash is critical to ensuring everyone receives the medical attention they require and that you protect yourself, both medically and legally, in the event the unexpected strikes.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle, car, or tractor-trailer crash, call us at 1-800-321-8968 and speak with an attorney who practices in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and West Virginia. We will come to you, wherever you are.