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A common question that people have is “What should I do after a Collision?” Many people are still confused by the process and often get taken advantage of by the Insurance companies. What insurance companies do not tell you is that they do not work with your best interests in mind: they always look at the bottom line, and what benefits the company most. Following the next steps can assure, that no matter what your interests are, they are always protected.

Stop, Secure and Stay.

First, after a major collision, one must stop the vehicle and make sure it will not keep moving or cause further damage. After achieving a full stop, the safety of the people involved in the collision takes priority. Making sure that no major injuries were sustained at the moment of impact by anyone in the vehicle, is primordial. If the vehicle has been secured move on to other vehicles or people involved. Call 911 or confirm someone has called 911. Once everyone has been cleared and no life-threatening situations are noticed, calmly wait for the Police to arrive on scene. Do not leave the collision scene, do not go anywhere else, stay until the police disperse the scene.

In the event of a minor collision, stop to prevent further damage. Access the people in the vehicle for any major or life-threatening injuries. The amount of impact does not always determine the amount of injury someone could sustain. If there is no need for emergency medical treatment, move the vehicle out of the way of traffic and other moving vehicles. Then remain at the scene until police have cleared and dispersed it.

Tucson Police Department may only respond to collisions were physical injury has been sustained by any person involved or if traffic is impacted. Calling the police will leave a taped call and that can help, even if no police officers arrive on scene.

At the time of and immediately after a collision you may not feel pain. Adrenaline is coursing through your body masking symptoms. Never say you are fine because the truth is you do not know. Tell the police, if there are not obvious injuiries, you will go get checked out.

Ready, Camera, Action!

While you are waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures of everything. Make sure you exchange information with the other people involved, take pictures of the Identifications [Do not forget Witnesses], Driver Licenses, Insurance Policies, Plates, Vehicle Identification Numbers [V.I.N.], damages sustained to any vehicle or public property, any damages sustained by drivers or passengers and anything else that might seem important or look off. Documentation is a very important part of any case, taking pictures saves the trouble of interpretation of written notes or hazy memories. Pictures are able to capture an image which can be hard to describe or detailed could be forgotten or distorted. A picture is worth a thousand words, so snap a pic! Often when looking back we notice that there might have been a few to many pictures but that’s fine, keep all the pictures, they could come-in handy. Before going to an attorney and dumping files on them and hoping they can understand and locate the substantive information, take a second to organize the files. Maintain all photographs taken. Do not delete any of the photographs.

Who to call, what to say?

Police: they are the first choice, they serve a purpose, more documentation! Calling the police after a collision is important. They will create a report and enter the information they receive from parties as well as their own perspective. Even the 911 call is recorded and can be requested. Being honest, factual, and brief is the best thing to do, answer their questions but do not go off into tangents or stories. Once on scene the police will secure the scene and inform everyone when they can leave. Police are a third-party law enforcement presence to ensure nothing escalates and everyone is safe. Police do not look out for your best interests, they are focused on public safety and documentation. Police are there to do their job; documentation, civil control, assure safety, and hand out infractions for any violations caused by a driver in the incident. Allow police to do their job and follow their instructions.

Insurance: As to your own Insurance Company they may not look out for your best interests. It is a Company who has a bottom line and their own interests in mind. Insurance companies do not portray this openly but will take anything you say to them and use it in their favor to make sure they come out on top. It is a business that is run for profit. Best way to handle the situation where a call must be placed to your insurance company is to give them only the necessary information. What do Insurance companies need? It is very basic information that is needed to generate a claim, that can get more details added in the future. Give the Policy-holder’s Name, Policy Number, Location of Collision and most important let them know a representing attorney will contact them regarding this specific claim.

The other driver’s insurance may attempt to contact you a record a statement. You are not required to give them a statement. You can simply say you are retaining counsel and get a claims number. Anything you say can be turned against you. As an example, if they contact you few days after the collision and ask if you a feeling better now, and you say yes meaning better than a few days ago but 100% it will not be taken down that way. You just limited you claim for pain an suffering to a few days even if you continue to suffer.

Social media: Simply stay off social media. To say “thank heavens I was not seriously injured” or a photo showing all smiles can torpedo you case. Nothing is harder to overcome then photos showing a person on vacation when they are claiming they were too injured to work.

Attorney: This is probably the most important call, assuming no one was majorly injured. Finding an attorney well versed in Arizona Personal Injury Laws [Torts Law] that will protect your interests and fight to get you the best possible outcome can be a challenge. Once retained they will handle communication with Insurance companies, creation of demand packets, and will head the process of obtaining the best outcome. With organized documentation and thorough breakdown of expenses created from the collision they can get figures that more accurately represent the true damages sustained, not just physical but financial as well.

Make sure to be ready and know what to do in this situation. Taking the correct action and being brief with everyone but the Attorney can drastically change the outcome of case. Being prepared and safe doesn’t always prevent collision but knowing what to do benefits the outcome. When in a collision stop the vehicle, secure drivers and passengers, stay on scene, take pictures of everything small to large, call police, Insurance and an attorney. In life we cannot always prevent things from happening but we can always prepare for the worst!

For an Attorney that will fight to protect your interests, Call West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman at (520) 790-7337 and ask for Herman C. “Gib” Zickerman. With 46 year of experience he can assist you in getting the best result.

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