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Legal Guidelines for Auto Accidents
- AT THE SCENE of the accident, stop and render assistance. We recommend that you call the police and report every traffic collision. If anyone is injured or damage appears to be higher than $500 dollars, call the police. Obtain as much information as possible about all drivers and witnesses involved. Do not move the vehicles until the police arrive.
- FILE A COLLISION REPORT with the Washington State Patrol within 24 hours of the accident. COLLISION REPORT FORMS are available at local police stations and at the our offices.
- NOTIFY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY of the accident in order to preserve your right to later make claims for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage or uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage.
- DO NOT DISCUSS the accident with anyone outside of your immediate family, your attorney or your doctor.
- DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENT without consulting your attorney or doctor. In particular, do not sign any release without consulting any attorney no matter what verbal representation is made by an insurance adjuster. Once you sign a comprehensive release, you will not be able to obtain further financial recovery from that person or insurance company, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR CONDITION. Signing the release means you have settled your claim FOREVER.
- GET EXAMINED by going to a hospital emergency room or your primary care provider without delay—preferably the day of the injury.
- KEEP A RECORD of all expenses, including mileage to and from your health care provider’s office and all time missed from work.
- KEEP A DIARY OF CHANGES in your life as a result of your injuries, including activities missed, pain/discomfort levels, work-related or family-related problems or lost opportunities.
- NOTIFY YOUR ATTORNEY AND DOCTOR of any changes such as new addresses, phone numbers, employers, marriage or divorce. Notify them of any prolonged vacations and any other information necessary to contact you.
- PROMPTLY SUBMIT CLAIMS to your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) carrier for payment of health care expenses or wage loss. Most PIP polices will only pay for losses during the first year after the accident, not after the date you make the claim. When you have your own carrier pay certain loses, you may enhance your final settlement.