First thing to do when you have an auto accident

BOOM! You’ve just been hit. Everything is confusing and you’re not sure what to do, or what even happened.

You may be surprised to hear this, but the first thing you do is NOT to call me. The first thing you should do after an accident is call 911. Hands down, this is the smartest play to protect you, your rights, and your claim.

Why is that? First, if there are really severe injuries, you can get an ambulance there. Peoples’ health is the most important thing, so calling 911 helps to safe-guard that. But there’s also the administrative aspect of this whole process. You want and need an accident report. Here’s the thing: Like pretty much everything else in life, your claim rests on a foundation. The foundation in the case of your claim is the accident. If the accident is documented by a (hopefully) unbiased, disinterested 3rd party, then you have a better chance of getting the facts of how the accident occurred established early and accurately. I know, maybe you don’t want to “make a big deal out of it.” But having law enforcement document an accident isn’t making a big deal. This is just part of living in an organized and responsible society.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a defendant’s story change after the accident. Sure, at first they feel guilty and want to be nice. But then they talk to this person, they talk to that person, they start to feel less guilty and more like a victim themselves (albeit of their own negligence, but that’s beside the point). And sometimes their insurance company gets in their ear…”Are you sure it happened like that? Is it possible it happened this other way…?” The next thing you know, this really nice ding dong who hit you isn’t so nice anymore, and you have a disputed claim.

But if you have an accident report, and the officer documents that the defendant accepted responsibility for causing the accident, it’s harder for them to go back on that after the fact.

Yes, call me (or any competent personal injury attorney) after you’ve had an accident. But don’t call me first! Call 911 first, get the accident documented, and then let’s worry about everything else.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
1829 E. Franklin St. - Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

(P) 919-929-2992
(F) 919-636-4779

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