What to do if you are in a car accident in Ohio
Stay at the scene and make sure everyone is OK
First and foremost, check on the well being of your passengers and the occupants of any other vehicles involved in the accident. If anyone complains of pain or injury, you should do everything possible to ensure that they receive proper medical care. You should not leave the scene of an accident until you have checked on everybody, exchanged information, and it is otherwise appropriate to do so. Secondly, do not admit fault for the accident. Apologizing for the accident could be considered admitting fault. You can still be courteous and empathetic without apologizing or admitting fault. There is no need to be rude or mean about the car accident, but you also may be doing yourself a disservice by apologizing or admitting fault in some fashion.
Call the police
If there are injuries or significant damages to one or more vehicles then you need to call the police. If there are injuries then calling for medical help should be your first priority. If you have injuries then you will need a Traffic Accident Report prepared by a police officer in order to have the best show of recovering for those injuries. If you determine that calling a police officer is the appropriate thing to do, make sure that a police report is filed and obtain the police officer's name and badge number for your records.
Exchange information with the other parties to the accident
You should exchange insurance information with the other party. If you have a detachable insurance card, you should exchange that with the other driver, otherwise write down the other driver's name, the insurance company name, and their policy number on a piece of paper or on your phone. You should document the other driver's name, phone number, address, drivers license number, and license plate number. You may also want to document the model, make, and year of their car. If there were other passengers in the car, you should also obtain their names, phone numbers, and addresses.
Get witness information
If there were witnesses to the accident that have stopped or otherwise made themselves available to you after the accident then you should obtain their contact information and make a note of what they say that they saw.
Collect as much evidence as you can about the accident. Take pictures of the damage to your automobile and any other automobiles involved in the accident. Take pictures of the road condition and the intersection or street where the accident occurred. If you have any photos of your car before the accident, then before and after photos can be very helpful to your case. Also, take pictures of any injuries to you that occurred as a result of the accident.
If you've been injured, make sure you are receiving full and proper medical care
Some injuries as a result of a car accident will be obvious, and other injuries will not manifest themselves for a few hours, days, or weeks after the accident. Soft tissue injuries and injuries such as whiplash are often not apparent right away. For any and all injuries that you have, you need to seek medical treatment and follow through on any medical advice that you are given. It will be hard to prove your medical injuries in a court of law if you did not think them serious enough to seek medical attention.
Keep a diary of your injuries and treatments
If you end up fighting the insurance company or filing a lawsuit for your personal injuries, then the whole process can sometimes take a few years. You will forget a lot of valuable information that will be critical to proving your claim. Keep a diary of exactly what kind of pain you are feeling and where and on what days. Keep a diary of all hospital visits, medical treatments, prescriptions, and how it has affected your daily life. Keep track of whether you have had to take time off of work or have otherwise had to sacrifice work to deal with your health issues. Keep all of your medical bills, request copies of your medical reports. Be as descriptive as possible in how the injury is affecting you and document the date and time of pain flair ups well. This information will serve you well if you ever have to litigate your damages in court.
Do not talk to the other insurance company
Be wary of any individuals or companies with adverse interests to your own, like the insurance company you are filing a claim against. They will try to get you to admit fault and they will use it against you. If you are claiming an injury, be wary that many times insurance companies will hire private investigators to follow you and see if you are performing any activities that a person with the injuries complained of would ordinarily not be able to perform. For example, if you are having back pain then you should not be doing any heavy lifting. You should not be performing activities that cause you pain even if you are just powering through the pain. If an adverse party catches you performing any of these activities, they will throw into question whether or not you were actually injured. Don't risk it.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance companies may try to offer you a settlement for your claims, but you should not accept anything without consulting with an attorney first. If you are in a financial crunch you will be more likely to accept anything that is offered to you, and insurance companies know this. However, early settlement offers frequently do not take into account the costs that you will incur for future treatment of your injuries. Consult with a personal injury attorney at Harris & Engler to make sure that you are treated fairly. The law firm of Harris & Engler is located in Columbus, Ohio, and the personal injury lawyers at Harris & Engler help clients across Central Ohio, including all over Franklin County, Delaware County, Union County, and Fairfield County.