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What to do in case of an Accident

July 18, 2012
  1. STOP YOUR CAR – Never leave the scene of an accident in which you or your car were involved. No matter how slight the collision, if you fail to stop, you may leave yourself open to criminal prosecution even though the accident was not your fault. Stop your car as soon as possible without further endangering any person or property and without blocking traffic.
  2. GET AID FOR THE INJURED – If any one has been hurt, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Do not attempt first aid unless you are qualified to give it. You may make matters worse instead of better.
  3. CALL THE POLICE – Call 911 for the police even if there are no injuries. The police are trained to handle any situation that may arise after an accident. Even if you don’t think you are physically injured, you may be suffering from shock and excitement and it me be difficult to think clearly. Let the police take over when they arrive. They will handle any emergency and investigate the accident. Their report on the accident may be helpful to you later if you are sued, or if you decide to sue someone else. The police report is also important if you need to make an insurance claim. If the police cannot respond to the accident scene or do not prepare a report, in New Hampshire you are required by law to report any accident involving property damage greater than $1,000 or personal injury within 15 days of the accident to the state Division of Motor Vehicles. In Massachusetts the law requires you to report any motor vehicle accident in which you are involved, in which someone is killed or hurt, or in which there has been $1,000 or more in property damage. In Massachusetts you must file a written report with the Registry of Motor Vehicles within 5 days of the accident.
  4. EXCHANGE INFORMATION – As the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident, you are required by state law to give the other driver, any injured person, the owner of any damaged property, and the police the following:
    1. Information:
      • your name
      • your address
      • your driver’s license number
      • your motor vehicle’s registration number
      • the name and address of each person in the car
    1. Besides the names and addresses of the people actually involved, make an effort to get the names and addresses of anyone witnessing the accident. Witnesses may be important later in the insurance claims process or if legal action is begun.
    2. It is best to give only the information required by law. Do not comment on the cause of the accident, and do not admit fault even if you think you were in the wrong. You may discover later that the other driver was equally or more to blame. Also, immediately after an accident you will most likely be emotionally or physically upset, and you may not be able to see all sides of the situation clearly.
  1. SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT –
    1. If you have any doubt at all about your own condition or that of the passengers in your car, see a doctor as soon as possible. Ask your passengers to do the same.
    2. Make sure you give the doctor or emergency room personnel a complete and accurate report of exactly what happened and what injuries you think you have, no matter how minor they seem.
    3. Some injuries, especially injuries to muscles and tendons do not always manifest themselves immediately. It can take hours to days before you experience the full impact of your injuries.
  2. FILE ACCIDENT REPORTS –
    1. Notify your insurance company and/or insurance agent immediately and cooperate with your insurance representatives in their investigation.
    2. In New Hampshire you can get the proper form from the Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles at 603-271-2251. Your insurance agent, and the local police station probably have these forms too. The form tells you where to file the report. You could be subject to criminal prosecution and lose your license if you do not file this report.
    3. In Massachusetts, accident report forms are available at local police stations or Registry of Motor Vehicle branches. Submit one copy of the accident report to the police department in the city or town where the accident occurred, and send another copy to your insurance company. A third copy must be mailed to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  3. IF YOU ARE ARRESTED – If you are arrested or receive a traffic ticket, it may affect your ability, or that of others involved in the accident, to make a claim for your injuries or other damages. You should get legal advice if this happens.
  4. IF YOU ARE HURT OR LOSE WORK – If you lose time from work, sustain injuries or have other losses, you may be entitled to damages (repayment for your loss) from the other party or parties to the accident. In New Hampshire, the medical payments coverage in your own auto policy covers most medical bills incurred within one year of an accident, regardless of fault. Make sure to submit copies of all bills to your auto insurance company. If the other party is at fault and has no auto insurance, you are entitled to recover damages from the “uninsured motorist” coverage of your own auto insurance. In Massachusetts, an injured party must incur a minimum of $2,000.00 in medical expenses, unless death has resulted, the loss of a bodily member, permanent or serious disfigurement, the loss of sight or hearing, or a fracture. It is further provided that a person’s own policy Personal Injury Protection Benefits “PIP” will provide reimbursement for medical expenses up to $2,000.00 in the first instance. In the event that medical bills exceed $2,000.00, an injured party is expected to secure payment of these bills from their own health insurance or other insurance available. When these monies are exhausted $6,000.00 more is available towards the payment of medical bills and ¾ of an injured party’s lost wages. A total of $8,000.00 is available for Personal Injury Protection. An application for PIP benefits can be secured through one’s own insurance agent.

Awarding monetary damages is the law’s way of trying to put the wrongfully injured person into the same condition they were in before the injury. If you are in the right, you may be entitled to recover money for:

  • the nature, extent and duration of any injuries you sustained
  • past, present and future pain and suffering caused by the injuries
  • disabilities you experience, both temporary and permanent
  • reasonable expenses resulting from your injuries and the accident
  • any loss of income and earning capacity caused by the accident
  • the value of damages to your property

Know the full extent of your rights. Initial consultation is always free. Most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no fee owed unless a recovery is achieved.

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