Over 43,000 automobile accidents occur each year in Jefferson and surrounding counties. Over 11,000 of these accidents result in injuries to drivers and/or passengers. If you are involved in an automobile accident, there are certain things you must do to protect yourself and your interests.
The following is a list of the top ten things you must do if you are in an automobile accident:
1. Remain at and Protect the Scene
Before exiting your vehicle, check yourself for injuries and visually survey the scene for potential dangers, such as traffic on the roadway. Remember – safety first.
Never drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one. You can prevent further accidents by setting up flares or keeping your flashers on. If it is dark and your lights don’t work, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your disabled car or by the side of the road. If no one is seriously injured, and the vehicle is interfering with traffic, move the vehicle to a safe location near the accident scene.
2. Seek Witnesses
If there are witnesses, get information from them quickly before they leave the scene so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. If police respond to the accident, the investigating officer will usually provide all drivers with a police report number. You can use that number later to obtain the police report.
3. Police Involvement
Call the Police: Even if there are no serious injuries, immediately call the police to the scene. The vehicles involved in the accident should remain where they are, unless they interfere with traffic. Do not admit fault. Do not discuss your accident with anyone except the police, your attorney, and automobile injury medical provider.
Police Report: Insist that the investigating police officer creates a police report and get the report number. The police report will document the parties, the scene, statements, and police observations. Make notes of which police department was dispatched, name of the officer who prepared the report, the report number, and who received a ticket from the officer.
Providing Accurate Information: Tell the investigating officer(s) exactly what happened, to the best of your ability. If you do not know certain facts, tell the officer you are not sure. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Often, the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent many days after the actual collision. You should also make sure statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well.
4. Take Pictures
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures of the vehicles if there is visible damage. If you have visible injuries, photograph them as well. If you are unable to take pictures at the scene, take them as soon as possible after the police investigation.
5. Exchange Information
Typically, the investigating police officer obtains this information. However, if the police do not respond to the accident, you should obtain the following:
- Name, address, and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, drivers and passengers alike.
- Information about insurance by asking to see the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident.
6. Don’t Just Retain a Good Attorney- Retain a Great Attorney!
Do not contact or give any statements to your insurance company before you have received legal advice from your attorney.
Perhaps the most important thing you should do after an accident is to obtain a qualified and respected automobile injury attorney (i.e. personal injury attorney). The market for “Personal Injury Attorneys” is highly saturated. Any lawyer will tell you that they will handle your car wreck claim. This is because a lot of attorneys might assume it’s easy money to settle your case short. However, in this field, specialization is key. Don’t just get a good attorney, get a great one, and specifically one that only handles personal injury claims. If the website for the attorney you want to hire advertises that they will do your divorce, bankruptcy, handle a criminal case, and write your will, then they probably do not spend the majority of their time handling injury cases.
Questions you can ask potential attorneys you may hire include:
- “What percentage of your case load are injury cases?”
- “How many cases do you take into litigation a year?”
- “How do I know you are capable of taking my case to trial?”
- “Can you show me how much my case is worth?”
If they can’t answer one or more of these questions to your satisfaction, find another attorney.
A great attorney will be well worth their fee. Auto injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there typically isn’t a legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries. No one should ever try to represent themselves with their insurance company. You want to make sure not only are your rights protected, but specifically that the value of your claim is maximized so there is no threat that you may end up with unpaid medical bills, unfinished subrogation to your health insurance, or low reimbursement of your pain and suffering.
7. Obtain Police Report
You or your attorney can obtain a copy of the police report from the investigating police department by providing information such as the driver’s names, accident location, driver’s license number of at least one driver, and the report number. If the accident occurs on a state highway, you must request the report from the state police.
8. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
“After” you have received legal advice from your attorney, promptly report the accident to your automobile insurance company. As a Kentucky insured driver, you automatically have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to provide you with up to $10,000 coverage in medical bills and lost wages related to your injuries. Your PIP insurance should be your primary insurer for your auto injuries. Once your PIP benefits are exhausted, private health insurance becomes your primary insurer.
9. Seek Medical Attention
Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Most automobile injury victims report feeling the most pain a few days following an automobile accident. Even in accidents involving minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord or you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention.
Where to go for medical attention:
- Emergency Room: If you have “obvious” severe trauma that you believe could be life threatening or cause disability, go to your local emergency room. Understand that just one emergency room visit can use up to $8,000 of your $10,000 available PIP. If you take an ambulance to the ER, your total PIP could be exhausted in one day.
- Medical Doctor Specializing Automobile Injury: If you are in pain but believe there is no evidence of severe trauma, quickly seek out an Automobile Injury Pain Management Facility, staffed with Board Certified Pain Management Medical Doctors, and registered by the State of Kentucky. Quality pain management facilities that specialize in automobile injuries can help you every step of the way including:
- Thorough medical evaluations
- Medications prescribed as needed
- Trigger Point Injection Therapy
- Pain management procedures for severe spine and joint injuries
- Referrals to qualified & respected therapists to increase the speed of your healing
- Referrals to diagnostic imaging and specialists if indicated
- Assist with the completion of your PIP Application and other paperwork
- Assist with an introduction to a Great Attorney
- Provide transportation to and from appointments if your car is being repaired
- Urgent Care Clinic: If you are in pain but an Automobile Injury Pain Management Facility is unavailable to schedule an appointment, go to an Urgent Care Clinic while you are waiting to schedule your appointment with the Pain Management Facility. Urgent Care Clinics usually have much less wait time and are less expensive than Emergency Rooms.
10. Keep a File
Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
If you’ve recently experienced an auto accident and are looking for treatment for painful injuries, Kentucky Pain Associates can help. We specialize in treating patients who have been victims of automobile accidents. Learn more about the treatments we offer. If you’re ready to see a physician or you’ve recently been in an accident, contact our Louisville location or Elizabethtown location today!