As Joplin, Missouri personal injury lawyers, we know that the immediate aftermath of a car accident can be extremely overwhelming. That's why it's so important to be prepared: those moments right after the collision can be crucial to a future injury claim. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about those important moments right after an accident.
1. If I am in a Joplin, MO accident, what do I do first?The top priority after an accident is determining whether or not anyone has been injured, either in your car, or in the other vehicle involved. Call 911 immediately if anyone has injuries requiring medical attention.
If the accident is a minor one, and no one appears injured, exchange insurance information with the other driver. However, it's important that you make no agreements about settling anything: don't agree to accept cash to fix your car instead of notifying your insurance company. It's common for minor, low speed auto accidents to cause "soft tissue" injuries (including sprains, strains, and muscle, tendon or spinal column tissue damage): these injuries are often not apparent right away. In some cases, an injured victim won't experience any pain until a day or so after the collision.
Call the police, regardless of whether or not there have been injuries. Their report will provide much needed proof of the accident, including an on-scene investigation. The officer who responds will take the statements of the parties involved, and sometimes of any witnesses. This information could be extremely useful, if it turns out that you need to negotiate with an insurance company or take your claim to court.
2. What information should I get at the scene?
- Names of all drivers involved, plus license numbers, addresses and phone numbers
- Insurance companies and policy numbers
- License plate number, color, make, year and model of all cars involved
- Registered owners' names and addresses (if different than the driver)
- Name, address and phone number of any passengers or pedestrians involved
- Name, address and phone number of any witnesses to the accident (you may need them to prove your version of events)
- Responding police officer's name, department and badge number
- Location of the accident, as specifically as possible
- Photos of the accident, if possible (try to get multiple angles and locations, to create a thorough three dimensional picture of the accident)
Download our Free Auto Injury App for iPhone and Android to give you all the information you need, right at the scene of the accident.
3. If I think the accident is my fault, should I admit it?
No. Say nothing about fault without first speaking with a Joplin car accident attorney. There might be circumstances you are unaware of that mitigate any fault you think was yours. Remember, any statement you make regarding fault can be used against you later.
4. Am I required to report the accident to my insurance company?
You are required to call your own insurer and file an accident report as soon as possible. Failure to report the accident to your insurance can lead to denial of a claim down the road. As far as talking to the other party's insurance, do not give a recorded statement or sign anything without consulting with a Joplin auto accident attorney.
5. If I have insurance, why do I need an attorney?
Many times you will not need to hire a lawyer. However, if liability for the accident is not clear, and you need to prove the other driver is at fault, an attorney can be extremely helpful. Proving a claim requires investigation, research, and thorough knowledge of the laws involved. If you have been seriously injured, or the insurance company is refusing to pay what you believe you deserve, you have nothing to lose and much to gain by having a consultation with a lawyer to protect your interests.
For more information, order our free brochure: Top Ten Questions People Have After an Auto Accident.
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