What Every Driver Needs to Know in Case of an Accident

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August 1, 2011

With the last month of summer upon us, many people are eager to squeeze in road trips and weekend getaways before fall weather returns. More time on the road means an increased risk of driving collisions. While driving defensively is always the first and most important step in avoiding an accident, it is essential to know what to do if a collision does occur. Portland attorney Marc Johnston of Johnston Law Firm, LLC recommends taking the following precautions in case of an auto accident.

At the scene of the accident, get as much information from the other driver as possible, and share your insurance information. Serious collisions will generally require an immediate police presence. Always get the contact information of at least two people who saw the accident. If needed, they will act as witnesses. Try to take several pictures of the scene and specific damages.  You also must submit an “Oregon Traffic Accident and Insurance Report” to the DMV within 72 hours.  Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.

After an automotive collision, avoid speaking with the adverse insurance company.  Their goal is to make you say something that they will try to use against you later and settle cheaply before you know how much your case is worth. If an accident is severe and requires long-term recovery, do not keep a log or diary of how you are doing. If you do want to document your condition, track lost wages or write about medical appointments, address them as a letter to “Dear Attorney.” In a legal action, diaries and journals are admissible as evidence against you by the adverse insurance company whereas letters to an attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

It is also important to go to all scheduled doctor’s appointments – missing them will reflect badly on claims about your condition. If your back or neck hurts, seek a referral to a physical therapist and/or a chiropractor from your primary care physician. Also, make sure to get x-rays for all non-soft tissue injuries. And most importantly, be open and cooperative with your doctor. Be descriptive; tell them about every ache and pain and be sure to follow all recommendations for treatment.  If a certain treatment is not working after a period of time, don’t be afraid to ask for something different or seek out other providers.