As a New Orleans personal injury attorney, I know car accidents can be a very scary event and cause us to panic when it happens. Because it is hard to think clearly after you’ve been involved in a car accident, it’s important to know what to do and what information to gather before you ever get into an accident. Staying as calm as possible is crucial after an accident so that you can think clearly and get all necessary information.
After an automobile accident, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Determine the Extent of Damage to your Vehicle – Examine the damage to your vehicle to determine whether or not it needs to be towed or is still drivable. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle while it is still at the scene of the accident, as well as pictures of other vehicles involved. Take these photos before the vehicles are moved. I suggest keeping a disposable camera in your vehicle at all times.
- Address Any Injuries – Although your adrenaline may be pumping right after an accident, it is important to assess any injuries you and other individuals involved may have. If there are serious or life threatening injuries that need immediate attention, call 911 and make sure the operator is aware of the nature of the injury. Even if it does not appear that there are serious injuries, it is important to get checked out by medical personnel as you may not be fully aware of the extent of your injuries due to the possible panic and stress you’re experiencing immediately after an accident.
- File an Accident Report and Discuss the Accident only with the Police – No matter how minor an accident may appear, always have the police file a full report of the accident. Do not move the vehicles involved until the police arrive and instruct you to move them. It is important for the police offer to see how the vehicles are positioned in a car accident when making the report. Only discuss the accident with the police officer while on the scene, and do not admit any fault or liability for the accident. Limit your discussion to basic facts as to how the accident happened.
- Get Witness Information – It is very important to get names, addresses, telephone numbers, and insurance information of all parties involved in the accident. Also get all contact information for any witnesses to the accident. Do not assume that the police officer will put all of this information on the police report. Witnesses can play a key role in determining who is at fault in the accident, so it is very important that you have their contact information to provide to your insurance agent and your personal injury attorney.
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