By: Scotty Edward Chabert Jr.
Steps to Take When You Get In a Wreck
During the Incident
- Distance yourself and others from any potential danger
The safety of yourself and others involved should always come first. In a severe accident, smoke, fire, chemicals, or road traffic may pose a threat to those on the scene. If the car is still drivable, move it to the side of the road or another safe area and turn on the hazard lights. If it’s not drivable, leave your hazard lights on, exit the vehicle, and carefully move to safety. Low visibility makes moving to a safe location even more crucial if the accident occurs after dark.
- Check for injuries
Make a quick check of yourself followed by asking others present if they are okay. Next, check others physically in case they have an injury that they did not notice (possibly due to shock from the accident) or cannot see. If you find an injury, you can apply basic first aid techniques while waiting on emergency services.
- Call 911
Always call 911 in any type of road accident, or ask someone else to do so. In addition to being legally required in some states, the response unit can also help with injuries and with documenting the accident for filing a claim later. In Louisiana, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without calling the appropriate authorities – state police, city police, or 911 if medical attention may be needed.
- Exchange information
Exchange the following information with any other drivers involved:
- Full name
- Contact information (phone number or email)
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance company and policy number
- Type, color, and model of vehicle
- Location of accident
- Events of the wreck
- Helpful Tip: You can take photographs of most of these items for convenience.
- Document the accident
To help with the legal process after you leave the scene, take down the following information:
- Photos of the scene from all angles, including all vehicles and any objects that might have been involved
- Names and badge numbers of all responding officers
- Information on how to obtain a copy of the accident report (you can ask an officer if you’re unsure)
- Names and contact information of other involved parties, including passengers of all vehicles and witnesses
- Avoid discussing responsibility at the scene
As the situation is already stressful, it is best to wait until all parties are more calm before discussing the accident. Additionally, you should wait until legal counsel provides guidance before attempting to hash out any details.
After the Incident
- Complete the accident report and file a claim
Use the information gathered at the scene to complete the accident report and file your insurance claim. You can contact the responding officers to add details to the accident report that you may have remembered since the accident.
- Consider your state’s No-Pay, No-Play laws
In Louisiana, No-Pay, No-Play laws state that an uninsured driver forfeits their right to sue for the first $15,000 of bodily injury and the first $25,000 in property damage. However, the No-Pay, No-Play laws can be negated if the at-fault driver is convicted of fleeing the scene, acting intentionally, or driving under the influence.
- Start a Diary – Report
It is a good idea to keep a diary after a car accident to document events leading up to, during and after the accident. Over time the details can be difficult to remember but having a journal can help you keep track of the accident as well as the daily pains, frustrations, phone calls with insurance adjusters, body shop conversations as well as missed time from work.
- Assert your right to damages
You have one year from the date of the accident to assert your right to damages. If the claim with the insurance company is not resolved, you must file suit within the one-year period to preserve your claim. In Mississippi and some other states, this time period may be longer for uninsured motorist coverage, but you should not wait until day 364 to contact us.
How Saunders & Chabert Can Help
Saunders & Chabert’s team of attorneys is here to help people across Louisiana and Mississippi receive full and fair compensation for injuries and accidents. With us, you will speak directly with an attorney who will review the relevant facts, discuss the legal process, and outline what steps to take next.
- At Saunders & Chabert , we also handle contentious claims or claims where insurance companies refuse to accept their insured’s liability. In these cases, we will fight for the insured’s insurance company to pay the maximum amounts under the applicable insurance policy.
The burden of an accident shouldn’t be on you. Saunders & Chabert will help you recover the compensation you deserve, helping you to move on from the accident.