A motor vehicle accident can happen to anyone—any place, any time. You may have been on vacation or a mile from your home. In any case, it is important to know what steps to take should you or someone you love be involved in a serious car accident,trucking accident, bus accident or motorcycle accident. At The Horwitz Law Group, we take an informed and strategic approach to protect your rights and maximize compensation.
Call us at (312) 641-9200 or e-mail us to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you are ever in an accident follow these guidelines to protect your rights:
Stop Your Car
If your car is involved in an accident and you don’t stop, you may be subject to criminal prosecution. Leave your car as close as possible to the place of impact without obstructing traffic. After stopping, remain at the scene of the accident to aid the injured, protect the scene, report to the police and gather information.
Protect the Scene
Protect the scene of the accident to avoid additional collisions. Do not allow your car to obstruct the road if it can be moved. Warn approaching cars by raising the hood of your car and using your car’s hazard warning lights. In addition, for nighttime accidents, place flares or reflectors on the road.
Call the Police
Call the police, particularly if someone has been injured. A police report of the accident will help your insurance claim and any liability claims. Ask the officer how to get a copy of the accident report and note the officer’s name and badge number. If you receive a traffic ticket, it does not mean you are guilty of a traffic offense or that you are responsible for the accident. Be aware that you may hurt your claim for the accident. Be aware that you may hurt your claim for damages from the other driver if you plead guilty. Consult your lawyer and insurance agent before pleading guilty to any traffic offense.
Exchanging Information With the Other Driver
Exchange information with the driver of the other car. You should get the following information:
- Other driver – name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and name of insurance company and policy number
- Passengers – name, address and phone number
- Witnesses – name, address and phone number
- Owner (if not the driver) – name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and name of insurance company and policy number
Preserve Evidence and Take Notes on Scene
Make notes about the time of day, weather conditions, road conditions street lights and length of skid marks. Also make a diagram of the accident noting the location of the vehicles, cross walks, stop signs and traffic signals. If you hit a parked car and can’t find the owner, leave a note with your name, address and a summary of the accident.
Do Not Admit Responsibility
When you exchange information with the other driver and give facts to the police, don’t admit responsibility for the accident. Things that you say can be used against you if there is litigation. You may think that you were responsible for the accident and later learn that the other driver caused it or that the other driver was equally at fault.
Never Give a Recorded Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
NEVER give a recorded statement to an insurance company other than your own. Doing so can destroy your right to pursue an action against the at-fault driver. Often, insurance companies will try to intimidate you or make false promises to pay in exchange for your cooperation and recorded statement. This can equate to legal disaster and should never be given. Instead, call the lawyers at The Horwitz Law Group so your rights are preserved.
File an Accident Report
In most states, you must file an accident report with the Department of Public Safety or Department of Motor Vehicles. The report must be filed within a few days of the accident if there were personal injuries or if the damage to property exceeded a minimum amount, for example, $100. Failure to file an accident report may result in a fine and loss of your driver’s license. You should be able to get an accident report form from your local police or your insurance agent. Keep a copy of the report for your records.
Seeing Your Doctor
Both you and your passengers should consider seeing a doctor after the accident. The doctor may recognize injuries, sometimes serious, that are not apparent to you. The charges for a doctor visit and medical treatment may be covered by your insurance. Don’t settle personal injury claims from the accident until your doctor has advised you about the extent of your injuries.
Call Your Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident, or if you have received a traffic ticket, your lawyer can advise you about your rights and responsibilities. The sooner you call your lawyer the better, since witnesses may forget the details of the accident. Your lawyer can counsel you on how to respond to questions from insurance adjusters and help you recover compensation for your personal injuries and damages to your car.
If you or someone you care about has been injured, contact an injury lawyer at The Horwitz Law Group in Chicago, Illinois, by calling 312-641-9200.