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What to Do in the Event of a Car Accident

If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident in Massachusetts, it’s important to know the actions you should take in order to protect yourself and to safeguard your legal rights.

If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident, be sure to get medical attention for any injuries you suffer.

Even if injuries seem to be minor, it is important to know that they can worsen as hours or days pass. Report any injuries to the law enforcement officers who respond to the accident scene and seek medical attention promptly.

Stop Your Vehicle

The law requires that you stop if your vehicle has collided with another vehicle (including motorcycles and bicycles), a pedestrian, an animal, or with someone else’s property. Try to stop your vehicle in a safe place.

Contact Law Enforcement

Report the accident to the appropriate law enforcement agency. In some jurisdictions, it is a legal requirement that crashes be reported. That means that you may be at risk for prosecution if you do not report a collision. Insurance companies may require that an accident be reported in order to comply with policy guidelines. Failure to do so could cause the company to deny claims associated with an unreported collision. If damage has been caused to any vehicle involved in the crash, call 911 at once.

Safety First

An accident scene can quickly become a multi-accident scene. Passers-by may impede traffic by slowing down to view the accident. Debris from your collision or your disabled vehicle can pose hazards that can lead to additional crashes. Although it is wise to try and preserve the scene of a collision, putting safety first is vital. Pay attention to road conditions and traffic around you as you exit your vehicle. If it is possible to do so without placing anyone at risk, mark the scene with flares or other warning equipment.

Don’t Refuse Medical Treatment

Even if you feel that injuries you sustained in the collision are minor, do not refuse medical treatment at the scene. Too often, accident victims find that the injuries they thought were minor prove to be otherwise. It is not uncommon for accident injuries to worsen as time passes, especially if treatment was not sought quickly. Report all injuries to the law enforcement officials who respond to the accident scene. If in doubt, seek further treatment at a hospital emergency room. It is up to you to safeguard your health and well-being.

Cooperate with the Police

While you should refrain from admitting any guilt in connection with a collision, treat law enforcement officers respectfully and cooperate with them. If you are asked by an officer to provide information, do so. At the same time, it is advisable not to converse with others (driver(s) or passengers) involved in the crash. However, you should take the opportunity to listen carefully to anything said by others involved. Make notes of any statements as they may prove useful for reference in the event of legal action arising from the collision. It is also within your rights to ask law enforcement officers to carefully document any evidence at the accident scene. Because tempers and tensions can flare in the wake of a traffic crash, try to avoid becoming involved in any such expressions. If you feel it likely that you may have committed a criminal offense that led to or might be related to the vehicle collision, insist on contacting a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Take Notes

Along with your observations of any statements made by others involved in the collision, you should jot down the names and contact information of those present, including any witnesses. If you are physically unable to do so, this may be done by friends or relatives who meet you at the scene. It is also important that you make notes about the accident as soon afterward as you are able to do so. This helps ensure that your recall of the circumstances is as fresh as possible. Write down a description of the events that occurred – how the accident happened, including weather, traffic and road conditions. Also make note of any details you think might be relevant. If you are able to make a sketch of the crash scene, do so. Don’t forget to document any obstructions or obstacles in the area, signs, pavement issues (such as potholes, uneven lanes or other damage), vehicle skid marks, and the like. Although most crashes don’t lead to lawsuits, you will benefit by being prepared with as much evidence and documentation as possible in the event that disputes arise.

Take Photos

If your physical condition permits, it is a good idea to take photographs of the accident scene as soon as possible after the collision occurs. Many cell phones incorporate cameras that enable you to record the scene immediately. If you don’t have any means of taking photographs right away, try to return to the scene as soon as possible to do so. Be sure to include photos of any obstacles or obstructions, adverse road conditions, signs, trees or other vegetation, and any other relevant elements. Also be sure to photograph the scene from a variety of angles. At the same time, photograph your injuries to preserve documentation of the harm you suffered because of the crash.

Medical Care

If you experience any pain or discomfort after the accident, seek medical care. It is important that you not disregard any injuries, even if you feel that they are minor. Problems can arise days, weeks or months after an accident causes an injury. Long-term ill effects may be avoidable if you seek prompt treatment for any injuries you suffer.

Keep Records

In the days following an accident, you may be contacted by insurance companies, law enforcement officers, attorneys or other parties. It is wise to document any such contacts. Write down who contacted you and why. Include dates and times of contacts and briefly summarize your conversations. If you receive any written communications, save them along with the envelopes in which they arrived. Again, it is important that you seek legal advice before you agree to speak to insurance companies or lawyers representing other parties to the accident.

Contact Your Insurance Carrier

If you neglect to inform your insurance company that you have been involved in a collision, you could risk their refusal to pay any claims that you make. In fact, many companies make notification a requirement of your coverage. You may be asked to provide your carrier with a statement about the circumstances of the crash and about any injuries you suffered. Under no circumstances should you agree to speak to the insurance company of other parties to the collision, nor should you speak with attorneys representing others involved in the accident without first obtaining legal advice from a qualified auto accident attorney.

Talk with an Attorney

If you find that injuries you sustained in an auto accident worsen or if you experience problems getting your own or another party’s insurance company to settle claims, seek the advice of a qualified Boston car accident attorney. Many extend free consultations and may have policies that require no payment from you unless they recover financial compensation for you.

At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, you’ll receive a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your auto accident and injuries. We charge no fees unless we are successful in recovering damages for you. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman at (617) 367-2900.

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