Few events in life can be as emotionally jarring as an automobile accident. Nevertheless, it is incredibly important to perform a few key steps right away in order to safeguard your rights in the days, weeks and months to follow. Here is a brief summary of those steps:
- Remain Calm! Yes, this is always easier said than done. At the same time, you survived an automobile collision which is no small thing. Now it is up to you to take the necessary steps and forge ahead.
- Do Not Leave the Accident Scene under any circumstances until a police officer tells you that it's okay to leave. Otherwise, you may incur serious criminal penalties for fleeing the scene.
- Contact the Police and Request that a Report be Filed of the Accident. It's always a good idea to keep a pencil and/or pen along with a pad of paper in your vehicle at all times. You will need to record the name and badge numbers of the responding police officers for future reference. With everything happening so fast, you are unlikely to remember these seemingly minor but incredibly important details down the road. You should also follow up in a few days with the responding officers' local department to arrange obtaining a copy.
- Exchange Information with the Parties and Witnesses to the Accident. This includes passengers, too! Use your pad of paper and writing utensil to record names, addresses, contact information, license plate numbers and insurance information that will all be important later.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention. If you believe that you sustained injuries as a result of the accident, make sure to seek treatment right away even if you were not transported to the hospital by ambulance. This is your health – no time for heroics! Do not take unnecessary chances with your well-being.
- Take Photographs of Property Damage. After you and your love ones are out of harm's way, this should be the first step after returning home. Insurance companies and attorneys will need photographs of the damage to your automobile as they assess your potential claim.
- Contact a New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney ASAP. You may be looking at many months or years of medical treatment. If physical injuries and property damage are severe, assessing the full impact on your life and livelihood will take some work. The importance of having an experienced and compassionate attorney to assist you throughout this process cannot be understated.
- Contact Your Insurance Company and let them know the extent of any incurred personal injuries and property damage.
- Obtain an Estimate of Your Automobile Damage. More than one quote cannot hurt. If it's totaled, then obtain a quote for the replacement cost.
- Mantain a Thorough and Complete Record of Your Medical Treatment in the accident's aftermath. A key element to recovering in a personal injury claim is the damages which you may have incurred. This obviously includes medical bills and expenses from appointments, procedures, and testing.
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