No one ever is truly prepared for an automobile or motorcycle accident, but having a checklist in your glove compartment or on your mobile device can be a tremendous help in a time of stress and confusion. In hopes that you will never need to use this, Patch & FitzGerald has developed the following 9 item checklist to help you navigate the confusion and avoid what might be costly mistakes in the unhappy event you or a loved one is in an accident.
- STOP the vehicle. If you are in a safe spot, try not to move the vehicle until after help arrives. If you are in traffic, and it is possible, pull into as safe an area as you can.
- Call 911 and clearly identify where you are (landmarks, signs, nearby exits). Tell them if there are any injured persons, how serious the injuries might be, and if there is continuing danger (such as the possibility of a fire).
- Try to stay calm. Tell anyone else involved in the accident that you have called 911 and help is on the way.
- Notice everything around you: the time of day, any witnesses or bystanders, the position of the vehicles and the number of occupants, license plates of other vehicles. Take pictures if you can do that safely on your phone, or jot down notes of what you see.
- Be as accurate as possible with police at the scene, but if you don’t know an answer, or are not sure it is important to say so. Do not assume or assign blame for the accident.
- If there is another vehicle involved, exchange information with that driver. Include insurance information and registration details. Cellphone shots are a good way to do this quickly and accurately. Include pictures of the damages to both vehicles.
- Seek medical attention. Not all injuries are immediately obvious, and you will be operating on adrenaline. It is always best to be evaluated by a medical professional after a trauma like an accident.
- Call an attorney. Even if you don’t think you will need one, an attorney’s involvement as early as possible can preserve evidence at the scene and protect your rights. Try not to give any statement to the insurance company until after you have spoken to your attorney.
- Keep everything together. Once home, get a large envelope and put anything and everything relating to the accident in it: the name and badge number of first responders, your notes or print outs of you cellphone pictures, the contact information of anyone else you have taken, the hospital discharge papers and anything else. Keeping all this in one place will help you to stay organized and accurate.