A Step-By-Step Guide To Protecting Your Rights Following A Collision

1. Contact the Police immediately!

Unless you are incapacitated and unable to do so, contact the police from the scene of the accident.  Police will usually be dispatched to the scene if someone has been injured, or if there is significant property damage to the vehicles involved.  Try to ensure that all drivers - and all witnesses - remain at the scene until the police arrive.

2. Get names, addresses, phone numbers & licenses plate numbers of everyone who was involved in or witnessed the collision.

Give this information to the police when they arrive, and keep a copy of the information for yourself.  Any witnesses who cannot be identified by the investigating officer(s) will be considered less reliable by the insurance company.

3. Make sure the police conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the incident.

  • Many victims lose both rights and benefits because of incomplete or inadequate police reports.  And in the case of an uninsured motorist claim, a police report is required by law.  If the police are unable to come to the scene, it's up to you to do some of the basic investigation that police officers would normally do:
  • Make a diagram of the scene.  Include the location and length of skid marks, note the positions of all vehicles involved, and locate and make notes concerning accident debris.  If possible, take photographs of the scene from all directions - as soon as you can.
  • If injuries are involved, take photographs of them, too.  It's a good idea to continue taking photographs of your injuries during the recovery period to substantiate the length of your recovery time.
  • Be cooperative, but say as little as possible - and don't sign anything unless instructed to do so by police!
  • Never admit to anyone at the scene of an accident that you were at fault.
  • Cooperate fully with the police during their investigation.  An uncooperative attitude or avoidance in dealing with the police will hurt your case.Never admit to anyone at the scene of an accident that you were at fault. 
  • Answer any questions you are asked by the police, but don't volunteer any additional information or make editorial comments regarding the facts of the accident.
  • Seek medical care without delay!

If you don't get medical care within a few days after the collision, the insurance company will think your injuries are either insignificant or not related to this incident.  Sometimes, pain and suffering from an automobile crash will not appear until a day or two later, and then will get progressively worse.  The sooner they see you after you are injured, the more doctors and other specialists can do to help you. Prompt medical treatment is an absolute must if you want to fully recover the damages to which you are entitled.

NEVER tell the insurance company you are okay until you've been thoroughly examined by a physician or a chiropractor.  The insurance company will almost certainly use any statement to that effect against you at a later time!

If police do not come to the scene:

Proceed immediately to the nearest police substation or law enforcement organization and ask to file a report.  Failure to file a report could potentially give the insurance company reason to question or deny your claim.

If you have any questions about this article or questions about your personal injury or work comp claim, give Attorney Roger Riedmiller a call in Wichita at 316-263-0001 or toll free at 1-888-263-0001.  All questions and consultations are free. Call now. You can also email roger@raresq.com.