Accidents happen Featured

5:44am EDT February 14, 2006

 

If you are involved in a car wreck, you are likely to receive substantial injuries. Do you have adequate insurance? Do you know what you should do if you or a loved one are involved in a car wreck?

Insurance concerns
Purchase an umbrella policy with uninsured coverage of at least one million dollars.

Purchase the minimum automobile liability and uninsured coverage required by your carrier and an umbrella policy of at least $1,000,000 that includes automobile liability and uninsured motorist coverage for your family.

You will not receive coverage for uninsured motorists if you do not ask for it. The good news is that the coverage is inexpensive. If you do not obtain enough insurance coverage, you or a loved one could end up the victim of life-changing injuries, but without adequate financial protection to care for immediate and longer-term needs.

What to do?

If you or a loved one are a victim in a car wreck, record the facts, call the police, call your lawyer and contact your insurance agent.

  • Get names, numbers and facts. At the scene, ascertain the full names, addresses, home phone numbers, cell phone numbers, work phone numbers, places of employment and e-mail addresses of (a) the drivers of all other vehicles involved; (b) title owners of those vehicles; (c) spouses and residents who live with the other drivers and passengers; (d) passengers in the other vehicles; (e) witnesses; and (f) insurance information.

  • Notify the police. Notify police and other emergency personnel immediately by calling 911. If you are injured, it is important to tell them. If the other driver was at fault, tell the officer how you know.

  • Call your helpline. Call your spouse, family or friend and explain what happened. If you need help, ask someone to come to the scene with a camera.

  • Take notes. Make observations, take photos and record notes about (a) any injuries; (b) how, when and where the incident happened, including speed of vehicles, evidence of braking, evasive efforts and where the other driver was coming from and going to; (c) evidence of alcohol, pills, powders or drugs; (d) time of day; (e) weather and traffic conditions; (f) whether anything was wrong with the vehicles before the accident, such as a broken headlight or brake light; (g) damage to the vehicles, including whether any had to be towed; and (h) whether anyone accepted responsibility for the accident or made a comments suggesting fault.

If any driver was operating a company-owned or work vehicle, get identifying information on the work vehicle, including Department of Transportation identification numbers; the license plate number; the make and model of the vehicle; the name, address and phone number of the business; and the individual’s supervisor and contact information.

  • Get legal help. Contact an attorney after leaving the scene or while still there, if you are safely able.

  • Contact your insurance company. Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to promptly report every auto accident. Avoid any recorded statements. Also, be wary of the statements you make to an insurance adjuster who may be adverse to your interests. Do not contact the other driver’s insurance company before speaking with a lawyer.

  • Go to the doctor if you are hurt. The onset of pain may begin hours after an accident. Many people hope the pain will go away and wait several weeks before finally visiting the doctor. Waiting for treatment is not good for your health. In addition, waiting may reduce any recovery from the at-fault driver.

Andrew B. Koplan is an attorney in the Atlanta office of Gambrell & Stolz LLP. His practice focuses on trial practice, civil litigation and commercial law. Reach Koplan at akoplan@gambrell.com.