Taking the following steps after a car crash will significantly increase the damage amount you recover from the at fault party.
1. Safety First. If you are injured, call an ambulance. If you smell gasoline or see smoke, get out of the car. If the accident is minor, move your vehicle to a safe location.
2. Stay Calm. Do not express emotions by blaming the other driver or by apologizing for the accident.
3. Call the Police/File an Accident Report. It is important to have a police report to protect the undisputed facts from changing with time. If an officer is not able to respond, go to a police station and file an accident report. It is required by law to report the collision to the Washington State Patrol if an injury occurs or the damage is over $1,000.
4. Gathering Evidence:
a) Obtain the vehicle driver's insurance information, address, phone number, email address and license plate number. Use your cell phone to take a picture of these documents.
b) Use the camera on your cell phone to take photographs of the accident scene, all involved vehicles, injuries, skid marks, and other evidence.
c) Get the name, phone number and address of every witness.
5. Do not Admit Fault. You may think an accident is your fault, but then find out the other driver is equally at fault or even more so.
6. Do not give a Recorded Statement nor sign documents to the other driver's insurance company without first consulting with an attorney.
7. Do not do roadside negotiations nor rush into any settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries and rights. Do not promise not to pursue an insurance claim or agree not to involve the police.
8. Contact your Insurance Company. Ask your insurance if you have coverage for repair, rental, wage loss or medical under your policy. These benefits can be used until you settle your claim with the at fault driver's insurance.
9. Document your expenses and keep a personal injury diary. Record your treatment, symptoms, how the injury affected your daily life.
10. Seek Legal advice early. Take advantage of free case evaluation that most lawyers provide.
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