Protecting yourself financially begins the moment you are in an accident. As an attorney, I get many questions regarding what to do afterward and how to prepare for the eventuality of going to court. With that in mind, here are answers to a few of the questions I am asked on a regular basis (http://www.harvillelaw.com/car-accidents/):
Do I need to call the police?
You need to call the Kentucky State Police (KSP) immediately. They will come to where you are located, speak with you and the other driver, and file an accident report. This is required by law if your accident resulted in damages over $500. It is rare to find an accident that does not produce this level of damage, so it is a safe bet to assume that you need to file a report. You can call your local office directly or call 911 and ask to be transferred to the KSP.
Will I need to go to the hospital in an ambulance?
That is really up to you. It is often wise to do so, since you could have major injuries that you are unaware of. Most people go into some level of shock after getting into an accident. That shock can make it difficult to tell if you were actually injured and how bad the injuries are. This is why you should always be checked out by a doctor immediately. Something like a brain injury or internal bleeding could be taking place, and without a proper exam, you would have no idea.
How should I document what happened?
If you have your cell phone on you, pull it out and start taking pictures. You can even record video if you like. Be sure to get pictures of all sides of both of your vehicles, the road conditions, any sign of debris or damage to the road, and any external factors that could have led to the accident or influenced it. For example, if you went off the road because there was a major pothole, take a picture of it. If the other driver ran a red light, take a picture of the intersection and street light. Much of this can also be done later, but if you are safe and physically well enough to take pictures, do so.
What information do I need from the other driver?
Much of this should be taken down in the accident report, but it is always wise to also get the information you need on your own. Ask for their driver’s license, insurance card, address, phone number, and license plate number. You should also write down the make and model of the vehicle. If it is a work vehicle, get the company or agency name, and find out whether the accident took place on the clock or on personal time.
When should I call the insurance company?
You can open a claim with your insurance company the same day of your accident. The advantage to doing so is that you can give the claim number you receive to your medical providers so that they can bill your insurance directly. This can save you money, especially if you are having major tests or diagnostic work completed.
Should I call an attorney right away?
The sooner you do, the better. The reason being that as an attorney, I can go to work and ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the medical care you deserve. I can also gather evidence that demonstrates you were not at fault for the accident. Plus, if you need to file a lawsuit, it has to be done within one year of the accident (http://www.harvillelaw.com/). All of these factors together mean that you should call a lawyer as early in the process as possible.
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