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A car accident can ruin a person’s life. One minute, you are driving down the road, minding your own business; the next minute, you’re a victim of someone else’s mistake or inattention.
Whether in Maryland, Washington DC, or Virginia, the lawyers at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. help injured people who have been involved in car accidents. From the moment the collision occurs, the clock starts ticking, and it is important to take charge of the situation. Below are four basic tips on what to do when involved in a car accident.
1. Call the Police
Quite often after a car accident the parties involved in the collision refuse to call the police. The sense is often one of immediate reconciliation. Most clients explain that they never called the police because they did not think the situation would be “a big deal,” and the person that caused the accident admitted fault at the scene. This view is shortsighted. If you are involved in a car accident, you should immediately call the police. The police will help you obtain valuable information and will document how the accident occurred by getting the names of witnesses and insurance information. Sometimes the police will draw a scene diagram documenting the area where the accident occurs. The police will usually issue a ticket to the at-fault driver. All of this will help later with successfully resolving your case.
2. Exchange Information
Immediately exchange information with the other driver. This means getting the other driver’s (a) name, (b) address, (c) telephone number, (d) tag number, (e) insurance company, (f) make and model of vehicle, and (g) the name of the owner of the car if it is owned by someone other than the person driving. It is also important for you to get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses. Make sure to get witnesses first and last names if possible.
3. Take Photographs
Take photographs of your vehicle, and, if possible, of the other vehicle involved in the accident. Perhaps the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is never more appropriate than after a car accident. Pictures help show where the property damage is on each vehicle, and this can become excellent evidence in the case. Quite often property damage photographs make the difference between a successful versus an unsuccessful case. You should also take pictures of any injuries you sustain in an car accident, such as bruises or swelling. Scene photographs are also important. Take pictures of the area where the accident occurs, including photos of the intersection, road surface, stop signs or lights. A photo of skid marks, for example, may help show a car’s speed. Make sure to take plenty of photographs and keep your negatives in a safe place. In short, photographs help to preserve evidence, and it is critical that they be taken very early on in the case.
4. Obtain Medical Care
Unfortunately, car accidents often result in physical injury. If you are injured in an accident, it is crucial that you obtain medical care immediately. The adrenaline rush after an accident often masks pain. This can be very dangerous for an injured person because there may be a serious underlying problem that needs to be addressed quickly. Similarly, if a person has complaints of pain or soreness but does not seek prompt medical care, it will be hard to later prove the injury. It makes good medical and legal sense to seek prompt medical attention if you are injured in a car accident.
Please remember that each jurisdiction has different laws pertaining to car accident claims, so it is important to seek out competent counsel to advise you of your rights. It is vital to obtain a knowledgeable attorney to advise you of your rights following these types of accidents.