Auto accidents can happen to even the most cautious of drivers. Although extremely stressful and terrifying, it is important to remain calm and take control of the situation. These are the steps you should take if you ever find yourself involved in an auto accident. These steps help you address your health needs while also helping to make your claims against the responsible parties as strong as possible.
Know that you can call our office at any time, even from the scene of the car accident.
Minimize the risk of further damage and injury after a crash
If possible, move the vehicles to the side of the road to prevent additional incidents. If moving the vehicles is not possible, secure the area by placing down flares or cones and turning on your hazard lights to direct the flow of traffic.
If anyone is hurt, make arrangements to have that person seen by an emergency medical personnel or to have an ambulance take that person to the nearest emergency room. As a rule, you should seek medical care (at an ER or with your family doctor) as soon as possible for any accident. Injuries that may not be apparent immediately can often surface later. Keep detailed records of any medical professionals who treated you, as well as any treatments or medication you receive. It is important to have a copy of all your medical bills and records so you can prove your expenses later.
Exchange information with the other drivers
Never leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information, no matter how minor it may appear. Memories and opinions often change after an accident occurs. You could potentially face civil damages or criminal penalties.
Exchange information with the other drivers involved. Take down their names, phone numbers, addresses, license and license plate numbers, and insurance information. Be cordial and respectful without apologizing for the accident, which could subject you to legal liability and implicate yourself.
Contact the police immediately after a car accident
It’s generally advisable to call the police for every type of accident, even minor ones. You must call the police if there are injuries and/or vehicular damage. The police will normally arrange for anyone to be taken to an ER if they need to be taken. They’ll help clear the lanes of travel. The police will ask for the information (driver’s license, insurance, and contact information). Police officers also examine the site and speak with the people involved. They will prepare a police report and may issue citations if the driver who hit you broke any laws such as driving while intoxicated or speeding.
If no police officer attends to the scene, each driver will have to file a collision report within four days of the accident. Collision report forms can be found at your local police department, county’s sheriff office, or the Washington State Patrol detachment. If a police officer files the collision report, you can request a copy of the report from the Washington State Patrol detachment.
- To file in Vancouver, WA, you can visit the West Precinct or East Precinct in person, or file over the phone: 360.487.7500.
- To file in Battle Ground, WA, you can pick up a copy of the collision report form outside the front door of the police station.
Preserve the evidence of our injuries and property damage from the wreck
You should use your phone camera to good advantage. This means taking pictures of the damage to your vehicle and, if possible, the other vehicle. It includes taking pictures of yourself (to show how horrible you look, not how good you look). You should also take pictures of the accident site.
While you’re treating with your doctors, you should keep a record of which doctors and therapists you see and when you saw them. We’ll get detailed reports from your healthcare providers to confirm all your medical visits, your diagnosis, all required treatments, and your likely prognosis.
Notify your insurance company you were in a car accident
Your insurance company has the right to be informed of the accident. They’ll normally want to have someone examine your vehicle. They’ll want to take a statement from you about how the accident occurred and what damages you suffered. If you have any hesitancy about contacting the insurance company, please call us. We’ll guide you through this process.
Don’t speak with the insurance company for the other driver. That’s the job of your lawyer. Don’t settle any claims without speaking with your lawyer. Once you settle a claim, you can’t ask for more damages.
Contact your attorney after the accident
Your attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that all evidence is properly recorded. Your attorney can also provide valuable legal advice on how to proceed with providing statements, receiving proper compensation, and getting all the medical treatments you need.
At Philbrook Law Office, our premier car accident lawyers have helped thousands of personal injury victims obtain just settlements and verdicts. If you find yourself the victim of an auto accident, be sure to call our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA at 360-695-3309 or use our contact form to make an appointment.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.