The moments after a car accident can feel very overwhelming. You may have serious injuries, feel confused or scared, and be concerned about the safety of your passengers. You may also wonder how you will pay for your losses following your accident, such as medical expenses or vehicle repairs.
Since Oregon is a fault insurance state, you may be eligible to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the other driver. However, the actions you take after the accident will affect your future case. Take the following steps after the collision to protect yourself and preserve your right to compensation.
Pullover in a safe location and call 911. This will bring the police and emergency medical services to your location. Oregon law requires drivers to report most accidents involving injury, death, or property damage to law enforcement, and calling the police will help you fulfill this requirement.
When the police arrive at the scene, speak to the officer, and provide your side of the story. Do not make any admissions of fault or claim that you are not injured—you may not know all of the details of the collision at this stage. Collect the officer’s name and badge number to find the report at a later date.
As soon as possible after the accident, seek emergency medical attention and save all records related to your treatment and injuries. Your medical records will help prove the nature and the extent of your injuries, serving as important pieces of evidence in your claim.
You should always seek treatment after a car accident, even if you do not feel injured—you may have internal or underlying injuries you are not yet aware of at this stage. Additionally, failure to seek medical attention could harm your future case; the insurance company may claim that your injuries are not serious or that you do not deserve the amount of compensation you request.
If you are able to move around the accident site without placing yourself in danger or at risk of future injury, document evidence at the scene. Take as many photographs of the accident site as possible, including the damaged vehicles, collision debris, and the area around the crash. Additionally, photograph any visible injuries that you have and any traffic signs or signals in your immediate vicinity.
To file your claim, you will need to gather contact, license, and insurance details from the at-fault driver. Speak with the driver briefly and collect this information from him or her. Keep your interaction brief and do not make any statements about the accident or your injuries. If there are any witnesses in the area, ask for their contact information as well—their testimony could support your future claim.
After the accident, a representative from the at-fault driver’s insurance company may contact you and ask for a statement. Do not speak to this representative until you discuss your case with a Portland car accident lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and identify your optimal path to compensation.
An attorney can also represent you in your case, handling discussions with the insurance company and filing a lawsuit on your behalf. After you receive medical attention, contact a car accident attorney in Portland to discuss your legal options.