Even the safest drivers among us can be involved in an auto accident. The better prepared you are, the better you will be able to respond.
To help you to get through the many challenges that can arise after a car crash, Jebaily Law Firm presents the following checklist:
If you are involved in an accident, you will be glad that you have these items on hand:
Current South Carolina vehicle registration
Auto insurance card
Small notepad and pen
Emergency contacts list
Camera and flashlight (if your cell phone lacks these features)
Tire-changing equipment (spare tire, tire jack and wrench)
Flares or reflectors
First aid kit
During cold weather months, you should also keep the following in your car:
Blanket or extra coat, sweater or sweatshirt (for warmth if you are stranded)
Hat and gloves
Kitty litter or sand (for getting tire traction if you are stuck in ice, snow or mud)
Don’t panic after a crash. Take a deep breath and calmly go through as many of the following steps as possible:
South Carolina law requires you to stop if a crash causes property damage, injury or death. If it is safe to do so, put out flares or use your flashlight to warn others. Do not leave unless you are transported to a hospital or until a responding police officer says you can go.
Do a quick scan of yourself and others to see if anyone is injured. Do not move anyone – leave the handling of crash victims to emergency responders.
To make sure you get emergency medical responders and police to the scene as quickly as possible, call 911 right away. Check street signs or landmarks to make sure you give the right crash location, which should speed response time.
Witnesses will leave quickly – even before police or EMTs arrive. Make sure to get their names and contact information. Make a note of what they saw or heard.
Before a car is moved or towed, you can get photos of the scene. If possible, get four exterior shots of each car involved (front, back and sides), interior shots and shots of the surrounding scene, including glass, debris, skid marks, street signs and traffic lights.
Assist the responding officer as much as possible. Give your name and address, registration number and proof of insurance. Answer the officer’s questions. Stick to the facts and do not make comments. Don’t blame anyone. Don’t accept guilt. Get the officer’s name and agency and the police report number before the officer leaves.
Either at the scene or shortly after you leave, you should write down as many notes as possible about the crash while the details are still fresh in your mind, including:
Protect your health and your legal rights by following these steps in the accident’s aftermath:
Even if you were not taken away by an ambulance, you may still be hurt. Many head and spinal cord injuries, soft tissue damage and internal injuries are not immediately apparent. Go to the emergency room or see your doctor as soon as possible.
The sooner you have an attorney protecting your legal rights, the better off you will be in the long run. Schedule a meeting to discuss your case as soon as possible.
If your crash resulted in property damage, injury or death, you are required by law to file a FR-10 insurance verification form with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You must file it within 15 days after the crash.
You should report your accident as soon as possible to your auto insurance company. However, do not give a statement until you talk with your lawyer. Additionally, you do not have to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Simply direct that insurance company’s calls to your attorney.
Keep all of your crash-related documents in a folder. This includes:
As you recover from the crash, keep a diary. Make notes about the medical treatment you have received, and how the accident has impacted your work, your family and your lifestyle.
Anything you state on social media such as Facebook and Twitter could impact your case. It is best to keep the details out of the public arena.
Do not sign a settlement agreement or release form until your lawyer has reviewed it first and determined whether the settlement offer would fully and fairly compensate you.
You should never hesitate to call your lawyer if you have any questions or concerns about your case and want to check on its status.