Unfortunately, 1 in every 44 people in Pennsylvania are involved in a car accident and the numbers are likely higher in State College where we live at the intersection of pedestrians, buses, bicycles and cars. Because of this, it is extremely important that State College residents know what to do should they find themselves in State College car accident.
1. Call the police. It cannot be emphasized enough, but contacting the police after any State College car accident is the most important thing you can do. Too many times people make the mistake of not contacting the police after a minor car accident because they don't think there is a need to. By contacting the police, you not only protect yourself from the other driver changing their story after the accident, but you also may be required to produce a written police report to your insurance company in order to obtain coverage.
2. Call the paramedics immediately if you or the other driver is injured. One of the biggest mistakes car accident victims make is thinking they can "walk it off" or "tough it out." This is not only extremely dangerous as you may injure yourself further, but may also preclude you from recovering for injuries that you do not initially realize you suffered because of the shock of the accident. I have met dozens of car accident victims who have had severe injuries that they did not initially seek treatment for because they thought that they could manage the pain and it would eventually go away. When their injuries progressed to a point that they could no longer withstand the pain, their car accident insurance company refused to pay for their medical bills because of the length of time between the accident and when the car accident victim consulted a doctor. It is extremely important that you immediately seek medical attention after a car accident if you have been injured.
3. Take pictures of the other driver's car insurance and license. In this day in age most of us have a cell phone that doubles as a camera. Even if the other driver says that he will take care of everything, take a picture of the other driver's insurance card and license.
4. Take pictures of the damages. It is important to not only document the damage to your car, but any damage to the other car. Just as significant is to take pictures when there is not any damage to either car, as you want to protect yourself against a potential false claim by the other driver.
5. Report the accident to your insurance company. This probably goes without saying, but I have come across my fair share of clients who found themselves in difficult positions because they initially agreed to not report the accident to their auto insurance companies, only to find out that the other driver made a claim and blamed the accident on them. While the other driver may appear nice or trustworthy, you need to protect yourself first. What most people do not know is that when a car accident is initially reported to the insurance company, the insurance company will ask their insured who was at fault and open a claim against that driver. Even if the car accident was solely the fault of the other driver, you may find yourself in a prolonged claims adjustment process, or worse, a lawsuit because you either waited to report the state college car accident, or worse did not report the accident at all. It is also important to point out that most car insurance policies contain provisions that require a car accident to be reported in a timely manner to obtain coverage. Your failure to timely report the car accident may also impact your ability to recover insurance benefits from your own car insurance company.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, it is important that you contact an experienced State College Car Accident Lawyer who can assist you in resolving your claim and helping you to understand your rights under the law and your insurance policy.