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Six steps to take after an auto accident

Even a fender-bender can leave you shaken; so, in the excitement of an automobile crash, it is hard to remember what you should do. As a way to document the details while they are still fresh, you should TRAP IT in your memory by taking these steps to record the facts. 

T – TAG INFORMATION 

Occasionally, a vehicle will try to flee the scene of an accident, so it’s helpful to get the tag information — in addition to the color, make, and model of the vehicle. These days, almost everyone has a cell phone with a built-in camera, so it is easy to identify the vehicle by simply snapping a picture of the license plate and its overall appearance for identification purposes and to show any damage. It often is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. 

R – RECORD WITNESS INFORMATION 

People at the scene who saw the accident can provide crucial details. You can jot a note on your phone of the names, phone numbers and addresses of anyone who witnessed the accident and, if they agree, even get them to let you record a brief statement of what they saw while it is fresh in their minds. 

If anyone states conflicting information, do not argue about the incongruent details. However, it is helpful to note where the witnesses were located and whether they had a clear view or any distractions or obstructions. 

A – ASSESS YOUR INJURIES AND DAMAGES 

Of course, your first thought will be assessing your injuries and damages; but before you refuse medical assistance or an ambulance, keep in mind that adrenaline immediately after an accident may keep you from feeling aches and pains that you will feel later. Make an honest assessment and do not refuse to be checked out by medical personnel unless you are absolutely certain you have not suffered any injuries. 

Many individuals have left a scene of a serious accident, stating that they were not injured, and later die from internal bleeding or other non-obvious injuries. 

P – PHOTOS OF THE SCENE 

While you are snapping pictures, remember to take a few of the general accident scene. Details may become important later, such as where the vehicles came to rest afterward, road conditions, whether there was anything blocking the view of the drivers, whether anyone left skid marks on the road and exactly what type of traffic control devices, such as yield signs or stop signs, were in the area. Having a picture that was taken at the time of the accident can be helpful evidence later in determining the accident’s cause. 

I – INSURANCE 

Determining the insurance of all parties involved will be important. The police will need to record it, so it is helpful to go ahead and locate the information after the accident. Again, you can jot it down in the notes section of your phone or just take a picture. 

T – TELL AUTHORITIES 

It is wise to call the police, no matter the extent of the damage. If it is such a minor bump that there is no damage and no injuries, the parties may agree to just move the vehicles. However, if one party determines that they have damage, even minor damage, and the other driver has left, a police officer may consider that party as fleeing the scene. 

If you have an automobile accident with injuries, contact an attorney. Often, having an attorney to help you talk with insurance adjusters can help, even if you do not want to bring a lawsuit, because you may be entitled to more money than the first offer the insurance company makes. 


Kathy Brown van Zutphen of Coastwide Law LLC is an attorney licensed to practice law in Alabama and Mississippi. She focuses on the “elder law” areas of trusts, estates and conservatorships. Additionally, she litigates lawsuits and represents small business owners as part of her legal practice. Visit https://coastwidelaw.com to learn more or reach her at her office: (228) 357-5227. 

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