The immediate aftermath of an accident is a very stressful and emotional time. Even a minor “fender bender” can cause significant and long lasting physical and emotional injuries. After the accident, you will suddenly be asked questions about how the accident happened, your driver’s license, registration, auto insurance, injuries, towing and storage of your vehicle, and all of these will be asked while you have that splitting headache, backache, and/or neck pain. This is why it is important to know what to do if you are ever involved in an accident.
At the scene, call 911 and report the accident. Then, it is very important to obtain as much information about the parties involved. The following is a list of information you should obtain:
• The other driver’s name, phone number, address, driver license, and insurance and vehicle information.
• You should also try to obtain the name and phone number from every available eyewitness. If a witness won’t give you their name, get their car license plate number.
• If you have a digital camera or cell phone camera, take photographs of the accident scene, including any damage to your property, the opposing vehicle, and the physical surroundings including any skid marks, debris, fluid spills, and general surroundings.
• Take photographs of your injuries, bruises, cuts, bandages and casts.
• Do not move the vehicles unless they are dangerously impeding other traffic. Wait for a law enforcement officer to instruct you to do so.
• Do not make a statement to anyone admitting fault or apologizing for your actions. A statement can be made at a later time by way of a supplemental report.
If there is any doubt in your mind that you may be injured, you should request medical assistance. Whether this involves calling for an ambulance or simply transporting yourself to the nearest hospital or urgent care center, you should do so. Follow the advice of medical personnel who arrive on the scene. They will begin the process of documenting your injuries. Do not minimize the physical and emotional trauma you or your loved one has just gone through. All statements, such as “I am alright” which you make immediately after the accident, will and can work against you.
Do not ignore or downplay your potential injuries. Generally, the third or fourth day after an accident you will feel your worst. Most soft tissue injuries (whiplash) are muscle strain and sprain related. They may not become completely symptomatic for the first 48 to 72 hours. You should see a medical practitioner who is familiar with your medical history before making any definitive statement about whether or not you were injured or how you feel. Remember, you were not injured before the accident. You should tell your doctor of any change in your physical or emotional health.
Do not accept offers of “early” settlements. Before making any decision to settle or making a statement to the other party’s insurance company, you should always consult a trial attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury accident cases against negligent drivers and their insurance company. As a trial attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury accident cases against negligent drivers and their insurance company, attorney Mark Sweet can assist in making sure you are compensated for your injuries and damages.
Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown, Lake Mills, and Waterloo since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.