If you believe you are hurt, get medical attention immediately. If necessary, call an ambulance to the scene and have the EMT's take you to the emergency room. It is possible that the stress of being involved in an accident overrides certain symptoms of injury. If the symptoms arise later that day or a few days later, consider seeking medical treatment at that time.
Call the Police
Call the police if involved in an accident. The police will come to the scene and investigate the accident, take statements of the parties or witnesses to the accident. If the accident occurred during a busy weather event (snow, ice) with no personal injury to those involved, the police will ask you to drive to the police station to fill out an accident report. If the police do not come to the scene, make sure to exchange driver and insurance information. Illinois law requires that a motorist involved in a motor vehicle collision complete a motorist report and send it to the Illinois Secretary of State within a certain time period after the accident. The form is provided by the police department.
Move to a Safe Location
Move yourself and vehicle to a safe location. This is especially true when involved in a fender-bender collision. Nothing is more frustrating than motorists who block traffic for miles because they mistakenly believe that they cannot move their vehicles until the police arrive. This is not true. The best approach is to move your vehicle off the roadway. Not only does this clear the roadway but reduces the risk of a third vehicle striking the vehicles or parties involved in the original accident. I have represented parties in too many cases where the original impact was minor only to have a third or even fourth vehicle get involved in the accident with dire consequences for people involved.
No Admissions of Fault
Do not make any admissions of fault at the scene. It is natural to feel badly about being involved in an accident, especially if the other person was injured. However, any statement or admission of fault you make whether to the police, the other party or witnesses can be used against you as an admission of liability. I have represented clients where their statement of "I'm sorry" to an injured party was used against them in cases where the injured party was at fault. If the police officer did not see the accident, his/her conclusions of fault are based only upon witness statements. Therefore the officer's conclusions about fault may be no more valid than the witnesses who made statements to the officer.
Report to Your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance company right away. Your automobile insurance policy requires that you give your insurance company notice when you are involved in an accident. Any statements you make to your insurance company in anticipation of litigation is a privileged statement that cannot be used against you and will be protected. Only give a recorded statement to your insurance company. You may be contacted by the other driver's insurance company for a statement. Once again, any statements of liability made to an insurance company that is not yours may be used against you as admissions. If you get sued by the other driver, your insurance company will hire an attorney, at their expense to defend you.
Seek Legal Advice
Contact a lawyer to protect your legal rights. Whether you were injured or whether you are accused of causing an accident, seek legal advice. Your right to proceed against a party for your damages may be limited by a statue of limitations. If you are accused of causing an accident, an attorney will be able to assist you to make sure that your rights and assets are protected.
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