What to Do if You’re in a Car Accident
It goes without saying that being involved in a car accident is very stressful and unsettling. Not only are you concerned with your own physical condition (or anyone else in your vehicle), but you are potentially interacting with the driver of the other vehicle and also the police and emergency medical services personnel. It is difficult to think straight and maintain a sense of composure.
The purpose of this blog post is to ensure that even in the “fog” of that situation, you make sure that you undertake certain actions which could be tremendously beneficial in securing a favorable outcome in your personal injury case down the road.
First, make sure to take photos of your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the accident. I cannot overstate how valuable accident-scene photos are in pursuing a case. In many instances, there is a dispute as to who was at fault for the accident and without witnesses, those situations become a classic “he said, she said” situation. It is in those situations that property damage pictures can be invaluable.
Over the years, I have lost count of the number of times I have used those photos to prove that my client’s version of how the accident occurred was more plausible than the other driver’s version based on the location and extent of damage to the vehicles. And in my experience, Judges and juries are very persuaded by these arguments. In other words, just taking photos at the accident scene and providing them to your attorney could be the difference between winning and losing your case.
In addition, any accident scene photos can help show the extent of the damage to the vehicles. Many cases involve situations where the parties dispute not only who was at fault, but how significant the impact was between the vehicles. Having photos as evidence helps resolve that dispute and, in many instances, can greatly enhance the value of your claim.
Another thing that you should do at the accident scene that can help your case is not only to make sure you exchange insurance information with the other driver, but also ask to see their driver’s license and make sure that the name on the license matches the photo.
In some cases, insurance companies deny that their insured was actually the driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident and without that information, it becomes very difficult to know who to sue if we file a lawsuit. Ensuring the accuracy of that information at the accident scene removes any doubt.
Contact the Police
This is an often overlooked consideration by people who are in accidents, but it can be hugely important to the outcome of your Maryland car accident case. In many cases when police are called, the police officer conducts an investigation at the scene which is then used as the basis to generate a police report of the accident.
Normally that is conducted by either the Maryland State Police or the county police depending on where the accident occurred. That police report, while generally not admissible into evidence at trial, can be enormously beneficial to determining how favorable the resolution of your case is, either by settlement or at trial.
First, a written police report makes it very difficult for the other driver to “backtrack” or change their version of how the accident happened. I have seen many situations where the adverse driver apologized to my client at the scene, only to later claim that my client was actually responsible for the car crash. Having a contemporaneous record of the incident makes that very difficult to do.
Second, the police report is frequently relied on by the adverse driver’s insurance company to determine fault which, in turn, can make it more likely that your case settles rather than having to pursue litigation.
Lastly, the police report normally includes a narrative of how the accident happened which can frequently help to refresh a party’s recollection of the incident. Trials often happen a year or more after the crash and memories fade. But having a written account has, in my experience, proven to be very valuable to my clients recalling specific details of an accident that otherwise may have been fuzzy or vague.
Seek Medical Care
And last, make sure that you receive medical attention. It is very common at the scene of an accident for someone to say that they are not injured or experiencing any pain. That, however, can be very misleading. First, the adrenaline and stress you experience in that moment may well be masking the symptoms of actual physical injury.
And second, many muscular or “soft tissue” injuries don’t actually develop for 24-48 hours after the accident. Simply because you may not feel pain or discomfort does not mean you are uninjured. You should always consult with a medical professional to allow them to make that determination.
Following all of the above recommended steps will help go a long way towards securing a favorable outcome in your case. It will also ensure that once the case is being handled by a personal injury attorney, they will have all the information they need to ensure that you are compensated for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
So if you have been injured in a car accident in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or anywhere else in the state of Maryland, contact Dubo Law at (443) 275-6345 and let us put our experience and expertise to work for you. There is no fee unless we recover, so there is no risk to you. Call us today!