If you speak with an auto accident lawyer at any personal injury law firm in Central Oregon, they will tell you the best way to protect your rights is to make sure you follow some simple steps following an automobile accident in Bend, Oregon.
The reason taking these steps is so important is that they can help protect your rights if you are one of the more than 40,000 residents who suffer injuries following a car accident on Oregon roadways.
Here is what you should do following an auto accident in Central Oregon:
1. Call 911 if anyone suffered serious injuries.
The first concern should be for any victim who has suffered a serious injury. While it is generally a good idea to move vehicles from lanes of traffic, it is important you use caution when moving someone who appears to have severe injuries. Call 911 immediately and let them deal with extracting an injured party from their vehicle. If you are uncertain about the extent of someone’s injuries, it is a good idea to contact 911 just to be safe. You may not realize you need medical care.
2. File a police report the accident.
Any accident which occurs on a Bend roadway must be reported to police if the accident resulted in injury, death, or more than $2,500 in damage. Make no mistake about it, while $2,500 may seem like a lot, even a fender bender can result in damage which amounts to more than that. Use caution when speaking with law enforcement (or others at the scene) to not accept any fault for the accident. Avoid phrases like “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t see him” when discussing the accident. Stick to the facts and, as difficult as it may seem, keep emotions out of this process.
3. Gather other driver’s information.
While this may appear to be common sense, the aftermath of an accident often results in a great deal of confusion and chaos. Obtain the name, driver’s license number, license plate information, address, and insurance information for any driver involved in the accident. If any vehicle involved was not owned by the involved driver, you should also obtain contact information from the owner of the vehicle. This information will be required by your insurance company, can be helpful when you speak with a personal injury lawyer in Bend, and will be important to have when filing your accident report.
4. Obtain witness contact information.
Passengers, other vehicle drivers or passengers, pedestrians, or other by-standers who may have witnessed the accident should also share their information with anyone at the scene who asks. You should seek their contact information including their name, address, and a phone number. Remember, witnesses may need to be contacted by your personal injury lawyer in Bend to help reconstruct the accident and the events which led up to the accident.
5. Take photographs of the vehicles.
If you can safely do so, you should photograph the condition of the vehicles involved including the at fault driver. This will help establish where each vehicle displays dents, which can help in determining the angle of impact and other aspects of the accident scene. You should also consider photographing any road signs near the collision site, any traffic signals in the area, and any businesses in the area. Keep in mind, there may be traffic cameras, or security cameras located at businesses which can help document the accident as well.
6. Seek medical attention.
Regardless of whether you think you are injured or not, you should seek medical attention following any vehicle collision. Accident victims must always remember their bodies have an immediate reaction to any type of a shock to the system and this shock often means adrenaline is released into your blood stream. Adrenaline can mask signs or symptoms of an injury you may have suffered, even if it was a minor accident.
7. Contact your insurance company regarding the accident.
Every driver on Oregon roadways is required to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. Immediately following an accident, you must contact your own insurance company. Failure to do so could jeopardize your ability to seek reimbursement for medical expenses and other coverage under your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The sooner you contact your insurer, the better.
8. Do not discuss the claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes a victim of a Bend automobile accident makes is talking to the other driver’s insurer before they have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney at a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon. This is important — you should always seek guidance from an experienced auto accident lawyer before you speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Remember, their goal is to make sure their client (the insurance company) pays as little as possible for any claims which are filed. Despite the appearance of “caring” how you are, they are more interested in getting information which will help them protect their bottom line.
9. Complete an Oregon Accident Report.
Any driver who was involved in an accident which resulted in more than $2,500 in damage, injury, or death is required to file an accident report with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Driver and Motor Vehicles Services, Crash Reporting Unit. The report may be delivered by mail or by email. Each driver involved in an accident is required to fill out this report and must do so within 72 hours of an accident occurring. Failure to report the accident can result in license suspension. A copy of the filed report should be maintained for your records as there is no obligation the ODOT supply you a copy.
10. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.
One of the most important things you can do is contact a Bend personal injury lawyer as soon after the accident as possible to make sure you understand your rights. While you may think your insurance company will help you navigate the claims process, remember you both have vastly different goals. The insurance company wants to pay as little as possible towards your claim, and you want your insurance to make sure you are financially whole following an accident. These two goals are at odds with each other.
Victims of car accidents often do not understand what rights or obligations they have following an injury on Bend roadways. Chances are, you are losing time from work, facing mounting medical bills, and you are getting telephone calls from insurance adjusters. Rather than do anything to jeopardize your legal rights, before you speak with an insurance adjuster, contact The Steele Law Firm, a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon, at 541-647-1812 or fill out their online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Once you understand your legal options, you can make the best decision for you and your family.