After an auto accident, there are many different things that are running through your head. This is particularly true if you or someone else in your car is injured and you need to worry about medical care. It’s important to know what information needs to be exchanged with the other parties involved after a car accident and how to protect your rights in the aftermath. Your actions will have a direct impact on whether or not you will receive a settlement or be able to recoup funds to cover the cost of your injuries and repairs. Contact your attorney at Hoffman, Comfort, Offut, Scott & Halstad LLP as soon as possible to start the recovery process.
First, Call the Police
Before you start exchanging information, you should call the police. This is how you will get a police report. Beyond getting a police report, there are some cases in which you are legally required to notify the police. You have to call the police if:
- Anyone is injured or killed
- Unattended vehicles or property are hit
- The vehicle can’t be safely moved
- A drunk driver (or driver that you suspect is intoxicated) is involved
- The accident was a hit and run
- The other driver refuses to exchange information or they are unable to for any reason
- You hit a domestic animal
Many of these situations require the police to start an investigation, so calling the police is paramount to building a solid case.
Exchange the Right Information
There is a variety of basic information that needs to be exchanged after an auto accident in accordance with state law. This includes the names, addresses and license numbers of all drivers who are involved. You will also need to exchange information about your insurance company and policy number.
Beyond that information, there are many things that are good to keep track of for your records and for any potential accident investigation. First, write down the address and location of where the car accident occurred. If it happened at an intersection, write down both of the streets involved. If you are not sure exactly where it happened because you are on the highway, note what exits you are between and any landmarks (like a road sign) that show where you were. Also, jot down the date and time to the best of your ability. When the police show up, you should also jot down their names and badge numbers and when they arrived so that you know who was there.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Photographs
Outside of the information that you recorded, you should also take pictures and video with your smartphone after a car accident. Document the accident scene as much as you can. Take close-up pictures of any damage to your vehicle and you. Make sure that you get different angles and pictures from different distances. Many times, you don’t know what details are important immediately after the accident happens and a picture that you didn’t realize would be important becomes the center of your case. The more pictures and video that you take, the higher the chances are that there will be something usable or important in them.
What Do You Do If the Other Driver Won’t Cooperate?
Even if you are ready to exchange information after an auto accident, the other driver or drivers might be uncooperative. In some cases, they might drive off before the police arrive or refuse to give you any information. This requires you to act fast just in case something happens. Before you even request information, write down the license plate number, make and model of the car, color of the vehicle and a description of the driver. This is better than nothing if you are not able to get insurance information.
There are many different reasons why the other driver might be uncooperative. Some are worried about getting points on their license and others are concerned about their insurance premium increasing. Others could be driving on a suspended license and concerned about getting arrested or in serious trouble due to what they are doing. If you make the effort to collect the information and they refuse to cooperate, you should tell this to the police when they arrive. They have more authority than you do and might be able to collect the information. If not, you should still share your information with the other party.
When Do You Need an Attorney?
After an auto accident, you should always contact your attorney at Hoffman, Comfort, Offut, Scott & Halstad LLP. Whether the other party isn’t cooperating, or you are concerned about getting the restitution you deserve, you are entitled to legal representation. It’s a good idea to contact us before speaking with the other driver’s insurance company or offering unnecessary information to the other party. The things that you say in the aftermath of the accident can and will be used against you in court, so you should think carefully about what you volunteer. You are required to answer questions from the police honestly.
Help for Motorcycle and Auto Accident Victims After an Auto Accident
Hoffman, Comfort, Offut, Scott & Halstad LLP is an established law practice dedicated to assisting auto accident victims throughout Maryland. If you have been impacted by any of the common causes of motorcycle accidents, we can help to assess your situation and determine the best path forward for you. You deserve legal counsel when moving forward, and it’s important to speak with a lawyer before you go on the record with an insurance company. We specialize in wills, estates, trusts, family law, personal injury law, business law, elder law and real estate law. To get in touch or schedule your consultation, call us at your convenience at (410) 848-4444. We are here to help you get the restitution that you deserve and start on the path to healing after a car accident.