THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM AGGRESSIVELY REPRESENTING CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS OF CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
It is like any other normal day. Work has been stressful, the kids have soccer practice, and you still haven't decided what to make for dinner. Your mind wanders as you wait for the green light and then, out of nowhere . . . Wham!! In an instant, your world has changed. Your car comes to rest and you take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and emotions. You feel like you are OK but the shock of what has just transpired has frozen you in place. All the questions start to go through your head . . . "Is everybody OK . . . Is the other driver OK . . . How will I get to work tomorrow . . . Are the kids going to be fine . . . Am I going to be able to handle this . . . "
It is extremely difficult to pull your emotions and thoughts together after you have been involved in a car wreck. It is made even more difficult when you are a victim of an accident that would have been entirely preventable if the other driver wasn't operating a vehicle in a negligent manner. I feel the most appropriate article to draft as the original article in the Personal Injury section of my blog is to answer a simple question that has many complex answers. The question that I receive on the phone daily from potential clients . . . "I've just been in a car accident, what should I do?"
- If possible and you are physically capable, bring your car to a stop immediately!
This is obvious advice but should not be overlooked. Please bring your vehicle to a stop immediately. If you have been involved in a serious accident, bring the car to an immediate stop and leave the car in the location it comes to rest until law enforcement arrives. If you have been involved in what could be described as a "fender bender," feel free to pull the vehicle to the side of the road. This simple step helps you properly proceed forward into the next steps detailed below.
- If you are physically capable, contact 911 immediately!
If you have the capability to contact 911, call immediately. Never assume the medical condition of any person involved in the accident. Most importantly never assume your physical condition! Contact 911 and request law enforcement and medical first-responders to report to the scene. If you have the capability to do so, you may check on the condition of any other drivers involved in the accident, but do not move someone unless you are a medical professional or there is another inherent danger, such as fire, etc.
- Secure the scene, secure the evidence!
At this point, if you are capable of talking and physically doing the task, start to get names, phone numbers, and addresses of everyone at the scene. Get the license tag information, the make and model of each car, and the insurance info for each driver involved, not just the one who hit you.
Is the registered owner of the car the driver who hit you? If not, get the registered owners name, phone number, and address in addition to the driver's information.
In addition to getting the information of the other driver, make sure to get contact information for any passengers involved in the accident, and any pedestrians who may have witnessed the accident. Never assume law enforcement will get all of this information! In fact, many police reports will only list the drivers of each vehicle involved with addresses, license tag numbers, and insurance company info. The police report will never be as comprehensive as the full description given by witnesses at the scene. The police report should be used to supplement and bolster your case, not used to make your case!
- Record your own observations!
The onset of modern technology and the use of smartphones have really aided in the preservation of evidence in car wreck cases. Again, if you are physically able, take photographs of the scene. Take pictures of the damage, of the intersection, of the signage . . . enough pictures to set the stage for what happened. Record some notes through you phone. Voice record yourself and state the time of day, the weather conditions, etc. Record a brief statement on the surroundings to help you recollect events down the road.
If you don't have a smartphone with a camera, contact my office and I will try my best to get someone there with a camera to record and preserve evidence! (Call 843-900-1306)
- Statements made by other drivers!
As simple as this step is, it is often ignored or forgotten. Did any of the other drivers accept the blame for the accident? Did someone make a statement of fault prior to law enforcement arriving at the scene? Note this on paper or on your smartphone if it happens.
- Get a copy of the police report / incident report and record the officer's name and badge number!
The importance of the police report really comes down to one thing, it usually is the barometer on who is at fault in the accident. There is plenty of other information contained on the police report, but the primary function is that the report will usually assign fault. Sometimes the report will be ready at the scene in minor accidents, whereas more serious accidents may require a few days for the officer to record his conclusions. The police report can easily be obtained but at the very least, note the officers name and badge number at the scene.
- Inform your auto insurance carrier!
Even if you are convinced you are not at fault, you will want to inform your insurance carrier immediately of any accident. This will help preserve your rights under your own policy in the event that the at fault driver in uninsured or under-insured and you need to seek further recourse at a later date under your own policy.
- Seek medical treatment . . . Always!
Too many times, honest people will leave the scene of an accident and swear they are OK. I have had many clients mention to me that they wanted to "do the right thing" and turn down medical treatment only to have latent injuries begin to surface in the 24-48 hours following a traffic accident. I always tell my clients "Don't be a hero!" Go get checked out immediately, or worst case in the 24 hours following an accident. Injuries that may be related to whiplash or concussions usually do not manifest themselves until 24 hours following the accident. Let the doctor tell you everything is fine, don't assume it!
More importantly, after getting checked out by a doctor, make sure you follow any treatment plans without exception!
- Do not give any statement to the other drivers' insurance company!
Again . . . obvious advice but victims often feel the need to cooperate thinking this will help speed up settlement, when in fact this will only allow the insurance company to record you, manipulate your words, and drive down the offers for compensation.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM REPRESENT CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
As soon as possible, contact me at The McMillian Law Firm. Once you have obtained legal representation on your matter, the insurance company must cease direct contact and deal with your lawyer instead. Contact me as soon as possible so that I may conduct a site visit of the accident and begin to obtain witness statements, police reports, and all relevant materials I need to build your case towards an acceptable settlement or trial.
It is never too early to contact me! Each and every day is a day the insurance company will try and short-change your claim I am available for home visits, hospital visits, nights and weekends, just let me know what works for you.
If you have been involved in a car accident and live in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, Walterboro, Folly Beach, or any of the other fine communities of the South Carolina Low Country, contact The McMillian Law Firm now at 843-900-1306 or email me directly at [email protected]