What Should You Do If You’re Injured in an Automobile Accident?
Over 33,000 people were injured and more than 300 were killed in 2013 in Oregon car accidents according to the most recent motor vehicle traffic crash data from the Oregon Department of Transportation. No one expects to be involved in a car or truck collision, but it’s important to always anticipate the possibility of becoming a motor vehicle accident “statistic.” If a rear-end collision or other vehicle impact happens, make sure you protect yourself by following these procedures:
Call the police immediately. Oregon law requires you to immediately notify law enforcement if you are a driver involved in a collision that must be reported. Vehicle collisions must be reported when damage to any vehicle or other property is over $1,500 or injury or death results from the crash. ORS 811.720.
Record the other driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, registration, and insurance information, as well as the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any passengers.
Gather the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses who can be contacted by your attorney at a later date. Do your best to convince them to remain at the scene until police arrive so that statements can be taken.
Photograph the vehicles inside and out, the scene, and any injuries. If you cannot take photos, write a description of the vehicles, including make, model, year, license plate number and state, and any unusual features. Estimate the amount and location of property damage to the vehicles involved by using a simple diagram or drawing. Diagram the scene as well, making note of any skid marks, glass, fluid spatter marks, roadway damage, and other details.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is critical even if you do not believe that you have been injured. Symptoms of even the most serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, may not be immediately apparent. Many studies report frequent delays in patients having initial symptoms after an automobile collision event. Spine-related pain or symptoms may be delayed for several days or a couple of weeks or may be noted as stiffness or mild soreness initially that progressively worsens over time. Other symptoms common to motor vehicle collisions, such as headaches and radicular symptoms, may have their onset weeks to months later.
Report the accident to your insurance company, but do not volunteer any theories about the circumstances leading up to the collision.
Never discuss the collision with the other driver’s insurance company before you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The insurer may offer some small amount shortly after opening a claim that may seem fair at the time. But the full extent of collision injuries cannot usually be known until the body has had treatment and time to heal. Injuries may be much more severe than they appear in the days and weeks after a crash. If a settlement is accepted too soon, however, no further compensation will be available regardless of injury severity. If you or a loved one have been involved in a motor vehicle collision, seek an initial attorney consultation which, as a rule of thumb, will be at no cost to you.