Despite the increasing safety features in many new vehicles, you still have a good chance of being involved in a crash that could leave you injured. The hours and days following an accident can be critical to your recovery, but they can also be important to any insurance or civil claim you decide to make afterward.
After an accident, you want to give yourself every opportunity to protect yourself physically, financially and legally. Because the moments following an accident are often chaotic and confusing, it may help to know these points before you are in this situation.
Taking the first steps
When the dust settles, your first priority is your safety and the safety of your passengers. If you are injured, do not move. You are safer if you remain in your vehicle until help arrives. Even if you do not seem badly hurt, your adrenaline may prevent you from feeling the pain of your injuries, so don't assume you have escaped undamaged. However, if you are able, you can help your cause by doing the following:
- Contact Montana police so you will have an official report of the accident.
- Obtain the names and contact information from the other driver and any passengers.
- Write down or take a picture of the other vehicle and its license plate.
- Obtain the vehicle identification number and insurance information from the other driver.
- Do not allow the other driver to photograph your driver's license.
- Take pictures of the scene and the damage to both vehicles from various angles.
- Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Jot down your recollection of the events leading up to the accident as soon as possible.
- Accept any medical examination or treatment even if you feel fine.
If emergency responders do not believe you need immediate medical treatment, see your doctor as soon as possible after the accident. This will protect you from undiagnosed internal injuries and provide a record of medical care.
Under no circumstances should you admit you were at fault or apologize to the other driver. Anything you say to that effect may be detrimental to your insurance claim or civil case, and you may not have enough facts to accurately determine who was to blame for the accident. It is best to say as little as possible, relate the facts to the police and allow your attorney to handle any communication with the insurance company or the other party.