Here are the steps to take if in a car accident:
· CALL 911. If the accident was minor or if you believe no one was hurt, you may be tempted to not call the police. After all, who wants to change their plans by waiting for the cops to arrive? The reality is that if you fail to make a police report, you could face difficulty with insurance claims without an accident report. Some injuries also may take days to weeks before they become apparent. Post traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury symptoms can appear long after the accident takes place. Without a police report of the crash, you may have difficulty collecting damages for your injuries later.
· Get medical treatment immediately. In any emergency situation (especially life-threatening or severe injury related situations), you should always seek immediate emergency assistance. Symptoms of a serious injury are not immediately visible. The following are all signs of personal injury that can occur immediately after an accident or appear several days or even weeks later: Pain, numbness, dizziness.
Therefore, when seeking medical attention after a personal injury, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible for 2 major reasons:
The longer you wait after the car accident, the more difficult it will be to prove that any injuries you sustained were the result of the car crash.
You put your health and well-being at higher risk the longer you go without receiving medical attention.
While you're waiting to see the doctor:
Take pictures on your phone of any bruises, cuts, scrapes, or other visible injuries.
Don't worry too much about the quality of the pictures.
Pictures taken with a smart phone provide good evidence.
Document any pain or other symptoms.
Once you see your doctor, be sure to document medical expenses―both immediate and ongoing―as evidence for the car insurance company or your personal injury attorney (if you have one).
When Your Child Is Injured in a Car Accident
If you are a parent, you should always have your child examined by a medical professional after an auto accident. Young children can't communicate their feelings very well, so relying on your child to tell you what is wrong is not the best course of action.
Even if your child seems fine, symptoms of personal injury may not be immediately apparent.
NOTE: After a car accident, remember that you will also need to have your child car seat or booster seat replaced. Even if the device shows no signs of visible damage, the force of the impact could have caused small cracks in the material.
Auto Accidents and Pregnant Women
Car accidents are frightening regardless of when they occur, but a crash can be especially traumatic for pregnant women. They are are susceptible after accidents to:
Seeking a medical evaluation is always recommended if you are pregnant and involved in an auto accident with personal injury.
Depending on the severity of the accident and how far along you are in your pregnancy, your doctor will tell you what the best course of action is. However, you should always be on the lookout for the following symptoms after a car accident:
Loss of consciousness.
Pain in the abdomen.
Faintness or dizziness.
Not being able to feel the baby move.
Always remember, it never hurts to be seek medical attention after a car accident. This will keep you healthy and will help you settle your car insurance claim more quickly.
· Don’t forget to exchange name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and insurance information with the other driver. You need this information to protect yourself so that you can report the accident and collect any damages you may be entitled to receive. If you are involved in an accident it is your legal duty to stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible . Wisconsin law dictates that you must stop your vehicle immediately following any auto accident, even if it only results in property damage. Once stopped you must fulfill the following requirements under Wis. Stat. 346.67:
(a) The operator shall give his or her name, address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving to the person struck or to the operator or occupant of or person attending any vehicle (NO ONE ELSE BESIDES POLICE) collided with; and
(b) The operator shall, upon request and if available, exhibit his or her operator's license to the person struck or to the operator or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with; and
(c) The operator shall render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident, including transporting, or making arrangements to transport the person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that medical or surgical treatment is necessary or if requested by the injured person.
UNFORTUNATELY YOU MUST BE CAREFUL ABOUT GIVING OUT MORE INFORMATION THAN REQUIRED BY LAW. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO FAKE ACCIDENTS TO OBTAIN PERSONL IDENTIFYING INFORMTION AND USE IT TO STEAL YOUR IDENTITY. DO NOT allow your license or registration to be photographed. In the hands of criminals, your driver’s license number can be as valuable as cash. Many retailers accept driver’s license information to verify identity over the phone. In fact, your license number is the most common way to confirm your identity after Social Security number and date of birth. Recently, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners cautioned drivers about providing too much information following an auto accident. That is also a benefit to calling the police: they will tell you what information you must provide by law. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has put together two apps for Apple or Android that can be downloaded to your phone as CHECKLIST ON YOUR PHONE: Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wreckcheck/id543290503?ls=1&mt=8 and Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.naic.android.wreckcheck&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsIm9yZy5uYWljLmFuZHJvaWQud3JlY2tjaGVjayJd
REMEMBER HOWEVER THAT WISCONSIN LAW MAY HAVE DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS THAN WHAT IS IN THESE APPS. Contact attorney Paul A. Ksicinski.
If you fail to follow your legal duties, you could be CRIMINALLY charged with hit and run. The charge you will face depends on the extent of the auto accident.
If the accident did not involve any injury you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor and face $300 to $1,000 in fines as well as up to 6 months in jail.
If the accident resulted in injury but not “great bodily harm”, your charge will be a Class A misdemeanor and you will face a potential sentence of up to 9 months in jail and fines reaching up to $10,000.
If someone in the accident was injured and suffered “great bodily harm”, your charge will be a Class E felony. This felony charge carries a potential sentence of 15 years in prison and fines reaching $50,000.
· Don’t accept blame. The minutes after an accident are confusing, stressful, and possibly traumatic. Whatever you do, don’t admit blame for the accident. Even a car accident where you believe you may have made a mistake, may not in fact be your fault. It can be hard to know what the other driver was doing behind the wheel. He or she may have been drunk, on the cell phone, or driving without a license. Wait for the police to arrive and answer questions truthfully, but don’t blame yourself.
CHECKLIST AT AN ACCIDENT
- Stay safe. Assess the situation for your immediate safety.
- Stay in your car if there is a risk of injury or if moving might put you at risk of further injury.
- Move to a safe location if your car is creating a safety hazard or obstructing traffic.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident!
- Determine if there are any injuries.
- Call 911 immediately to report the accident and get help to the scene, if needed.
- Follow any instructions the police give you.
- Call your insurance company.
- Follow any instructions given to you by your agent.
- Request a tow through your insurance company, if possible.
- Note the name of the tow company and location to which your vehicle is towed.
- Be courteous and polite, but do not admit fault.
- Take the names and car insurance information of any drivers involved in the accident.
- Only ask for contact information if the other drivers do not provide insurance information.
- Get names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
- Provide your name and insurance information to the police and to other driver(s).
If you have a smart phone or camera, take photos to document the scene if it is safe to do so. Include pictures of:
- License plates of involved vehicles.
- Damage to your vehicle.
- Damage to other vehicles.
- Damage to property other than vehicles.
- Objects at the scene, including accident debris, skid marks, fallen branches, etc.
- Street signs or other landmarks to identify the accident location.
- Any contributing factors to the accident, such as obscured traffic signs.
- Time and date.
- Weather and traffic conditions.
- Description of the accident.
- Description of injuries and damage.
- Details of police or emergency involvement.
- Get a copy of any accident reports or incidents reports filed by the police and other drivers to assist in settling your claim.
- Follow instructions from your auto insurance agent.
- Always write down names of any investigators, including police officers or insurance claims adjustors.
- Whenever you speak to an insurance company representative, note the date, the name of the person, and a brief description of the conversation.
- Keep receipts of all expenditures, including transportation, parking costs, and repair costs.