What To Do After A Car Crash

Personal Injury Attorney

Call an Experienced Injury Attorney when you can.

A motor vehicle accident (car crash) can be terrifying and confusing, leaving drivers and passengers in a state of shock and not knowing what to do next. The first priority always has to be safety and avoiding more damage. But what happens when immediate medical care isn’t required?

Here are the basic steps of what to do following an accident condensed to fit in a blog:

Make a police report, or accident report to protect yourself later. Get witness names and statements. This can be extremely important later.

Get pictures of all vehicle involved. Also take pictures of signage, traffic lights, the roadway and intersections, if relevant. Also take pictures of skid marks, injuries and anything else that might help later.

Check out nearby businesses that might have video. You have to move quickly because most video systems tape over themselves within a few days. If there is helpful video, ask the business owner to preserve it. Even better, contact an attorney to help you save the video.

Get a statement for the person who caused the accident. Ask the at fault driver if you can audio or video record a statement with your cell phone.

See a Medical Doctor ASAP. Make sure you detail all of the injuries you suffered in the accident. Start keeping a calendar describing symptoms on a pain scale of 10 with 10 being really painful.

Contact your insurance company. Do this even if the accident wasn’t your fault. Don’t talk to the other party’s insurance company.

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate the car crash and insurance system. Almost all accident attorneys will speak with you for free, and many will come to your home if you are unable to make it to their office. Best of all, accident attorneys generally don’t get paid until you do.

If you have questions about an accident, you can trust the experienced injury attorneys at Durflinger Oliver to fight to get you the best settlement possible. Call today for a free consultation. If you can’t make it to us, we’ll send one of our attorneys to your home, or hospital room. 

~ Jim Oliver, Partner

Car Crash Checklist

What To Do Right After a Car Crash –

This Car Crash Checklist will give you a convenient resource for some of what you might want to do immediately after being in a car crash, or motor vehicle accident. The most important thing to consider is that you need to be safe, and keep your passengers safe before taking any action. You will likely have questions about what else you should be doing to get the best personal injury settlement, so you should call the skilled injury attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates, (253)683-4180, as soon as you are able. If you are unable to travel to our convenient Downtown Tacoma office, we can meet you at your home, or hospital room, for your free appointment.


Date                  To Do                                                                         Name and # of Person

Can You Get Car Safely Off Road? If so, do so. Safety first. Do not put yourself in danger if it can be avoided.
Call 911 to report the car crash if you or Your Passengers need medical help.
Have your license and insurance information available, and exchange it with the other driver(s) in the collision.
Identify Witnesses, get their contact info, and indicate where they were located at the time of the collision.
Contact Law Enforcement to prepare collision report.
Photograph vehicles and area ONLY IF SAFE TO DO SO. Photograph interior of vehicles if airbags deployed, or items in car were displaced by collision.
Call for towing if your vehicle cannot be safely moved.
Go to Emergency Room if you are injured. Be careful to explain to physician, or Nurse, exactly where you hurt and whether the pain is related to the car crash.
Call your insurance agent. Ask whether you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) that covers your collision/crash. If so, ask for paperwork to open a PIP Claim.
Create a log of every person you speak with about your car crash (witnesses, insurance, doctors, healthcare experts, car repair shop).
Keep a Pain Log. Use the scale of ten to indicate how you are feeling with Ten being really bad pain, and Zero being no pain. If you have moderately bad right upper back pain on March 12, 2016, you might make a note in your log that reads: “3/12/16, Right Upper Back Pain, 6/10”. Give yourself bonus points for putting in what type of pain, such as “sharp, dull, aching, or burning”. Make sure you indicate whether the pain is related to your car crash.
Follow-up doctor appointments if necessary following your accident or car crash.
Do your home treatment as prescribed. If your doctor gives you exercises, or tells you what to do, or not do, follow his recommendations to the letter.

What To Do After An Accident

What to do after an accident.You might be wondering what to do after an accident. According to Wikipedia, “in 2010, there were an estimated 5,419,000 crashes (30,296 fatal crashes), killing 32,999 and injuring 2,239,000.” If you’re reading this, it is likely that you or someone you care about has recently been in a car crash and is wondering what to do next. This article will cover what to do at the accident scene, and after you leave.

Accident Scene.

Safety First. Get to a safe spot as safely as possible. Safety is the key. If you can safely move your car off the roadway to a safe spot immediately off the road, you should do so. Do not drive more than 10-15 seconds or you could be charged with failure to remain at the scene of an accident (hit and run), even if you didn’t cause the collision.

Medical Needs. How are you feeling? How are your passengers? Were any pedestrians injured? If anyone was hurt, call 911. If a person is unconscious or has suffered neck or back injuries, do not move them, and try to keep them as still and stable as possible. Moving someone with back or neck injuries can cause significant additional injuries.

Contact Law Enforcement. Call 911 and be ready to identify yourself, your location, the number of people and cars involved, and whether anyone is injured. Make the call even if there isn’t a lot of damage to your vehicle, or people aren’t seriously injured. You should know that many law enforcement agencies will not send an officer if the accident happened on private property, or if there is less than $2,000 in car damage.

Something else to consider is that law enforcement officers will often cite the driver who caused the accident. This can be helpful later. If officers do not show up at the accident, then you may need to create your own collision report online, or the local law enforcement offices.

Exchange Information. In Washington State, in fact in most states, you are required to exchange information with the other driver or drivers. Be prepared to provide your insurance and contact information. Make sure you get the other drivers’ info as well as the contact information for all passengers, too. This is an emotionally difficult period, so try to stay calm and polite. The one thing you definitely don’t want to do is apologize for anything. If someone apologizes, or admits to anything, take careful notes about what was said, who said it, and when it was said.

Witness Statements. Talk to as many witnesses as possible and find out what they saw, and where they were when they saw it. You’ll need their contact information, so get it. You should also advise them that you might have more questions later, and ask if you can call them.

Take Pictures. Can you safely get pictures of the cars at the accident, and of the accident scene? If so, do it. This may be your only chance to document the damage to the other vehicles.

After the Accident.

Notify your insurer. Call your insurance company and advise them that you’ve been in an accident. If you feel any discomfort at all, tell your insurance person. Your insurance adjuster will have questions, and you need to answer them completely and truthfully. You do not have an obligation to answer any questions from the other insurance company.

Medical Treatment. If you are in any pain or discomfort, you need to go to the hospital and get checked out. It is very important that you see a medical doctor, and not a chiropractor for the initial diagnosis. Make sure that you are very clear about what happened, and how you are feeling. Take notes about where you went, and who you saw for treatment. If they give you exercises, do the exercises. It is important to follow the treatment recommendations as closely as possible.

You should also keep a journal with notes about how you feel on given days. If your back hurts, note where it hurts, and how badly it hurts on a scale of 10, with 1 being almost no pain, and 10 being horrible pain. For instance, if your back hurts on the back left by your shoulder, you might indicate that your “back on upper left back side hurt 5/10”. If you can’t do normal things, write that down, too. If you can’t pick up your child, or if you have to put on shirts differently than before the accident, write it down.

Document Everything. Photographs and documents are your best friend in your case. Take pictures of your vehicle and any other property damage. It will be important in establishing damages later. Damages are the value of everything that was damaged in the accident. If you take your car in for a repair estimate, keep records of that. Likewise, if your car was towed, keep those records, too.

Repair Estimate. Your insurance company will either send an adjuster to examine your vehicle, or it will have you take your car to one of their adjuster for a repair estimate. You are also encouraged to seek out your own repair estimates. You are not required to go to a repair facility recommended by your insurance company, so feel free to shop around.

Avoid Quick Settlement. The insurance company of the person who caused the accident will likely call you and try to make you go away by offering you a quick settlement. Do not discuss the accident with that insurance company. If they make you an offer, speak with a personal injury attorney before taking any action. The other person’s insurance company is banking on the fact that you don’t know as much about negotiating an accident claim as they do, and they’ll take advantage of you. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible, and they don’t care whether you get what you deserve.

Hire an Attorney. The insurance companies have huge teams of very experienced attorneys and adjusters whose primary job is to ensure that the company pays out as little money as possible. They are experts at negotiating settlements and they get raises, promotions, and special recognition for making sure that people like you don’t get paid. The only way you are going to even the odds is by hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Almost every personal injury lawyer in the country will take your case on a contingent fee basis, which means that your lawyer won’t get paid until you do. Put another way, you won’t have to pay money out of pocket to hire a lawyer to fight for you.

Medical Special Damages

Medical Specials

Medical Special Damages

Medical special damages are a key component of almost every personal injury claim. “Specials” as they are commonly called refers to the total expenses of diagnosis and medical treatment. Injury attorneys, judges, juries, arbitrators and insurance adjusters use medical specials to help determine total damages. The formula used by insurance companies depends on many factors, such as the type of medical treatment received, as well as who provided the medical care.

Different Types of Treatment

Insurance adjusters give less value to diagnoses and treatment provided by non-M.D.s. Adjusters also look at the duration and type of treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment. We recently had a motorcycle accident client who had several MRI and CT Scans, which are very, very expensive. After these diagnostic tests, our client went through relatively minor treatment. He had massive specials because of the MRIs and Scans, but a small amount of treatment. To the insurance adjuster, this combination suggested minor pain and suffering. His pain was therefore worth less than many clients who have modest diagnostic costs and significant treatment expenses and duration. Longer treatment duration, as long as it’s reasonable, suggests greater pain and suffering, and greater damages. This means that the claim’s settlement value is greater than the first client’s.

Physicians and Doctors, Hospitals and Clinics

The insurance industry specifically favors Medical Doctors and mainstream medicine provided in hospitals and medical clinics. This means that chiropractic, physical therapy, and other “alternative” treatments, are viewed as less valuable by insurance adjusters. Medical expenses from treatment by physicians is more valuable at time of settlement that expenses for treatment provided by alternative health professionals.

Treatment Duration

Generally speaking, the more treatment a person requires following an accident, and the longer an injury takes to heal, the greater the pain and suffering value of a claim. Adjusters will view a reasonable amount of treatment over a long period of time as evidence of greater damages.

That being said, most insurance adjusters think that treatments provided by chiropractors or physical therapists are of little actual value to both the patient and the claim. They believe that chripractors and physical therapists are good for little more than taking their patients’ money, which is why extensive treatment history is not viewed as evidence of the injury’s seriousness.

Call Us 253-683-4180

Durflinger Oliver & Associates PS

711 St. Helens Ave.
Suite 209

Tacoma, WA 98402

Fax: 253-683-4184

Email: jim@durflingeroliver.com

Map and Directions

Personal Injury Attorney

Martha A. McLaughlin worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney before dedicating herself to helping victims of the negligence of others. Some of the more common causes of action she litigates include slip and fall, car and truck accidents, bicycle accidents and dog bites. Martha completed her legal studies at Seattle University School of Law where she graduated with honors in 2007. Martha is well known, and well respected in the offices of every major insurance company and insurance defense firm in Western Washington.

My Car Is Totaled

stripped carWhat is a “Total Loss” in a motor vehicle accident?
If you were involved in an accident, your car might be so damaged that it cannot be repaired for a reasonable cost. It might also be so damaged that it cannot be made safe for use again. If the insurance company thinks that repairs would be either too expensive, or the car would be too unsafe, they will write off your car and “total” it instead of fix it

What Does Insurance Have To Pay For?
Having your car, truck, or motorcycle totaled is a kick in the gut, but if your policy covers the loss, the insurance carrier will pay the actual cash value of the vehicle (and fees and taxes) minus your deductible. The insurance carrier then generally takes ownership of your vehicle, however, it may allow you to keep your vehicle in exchange for the salvage value.

How Much Is My Vehicle Worth?
The insurance carrier is only obligated to pay the fair market value of your car. It doesn’t matter if it was your grandma’s ’55 Chevy, or the best Harley you’ve ever seen, they only have to pay you what the market says it’s worth. The fair market value is the value of your car based on a comparison of sale prices of similar vehicles in your local area. The adjuster will look at Kelly Blue Book, Craigslist, newspaper ads, etc. The Carrier is generally fair in paying for your vehicle, but they are also in the business of paying as little as possible so make sure they compare apples to apples.

totaled car

Insurance loss? Talk to an experienced attorney today.

But I Don’t Want To Lose My Car.
If you want to keep your totaled car, you can. The insurance company will give you the option of accepting a little less money (salvage value) for the value of the car in exchange for keeping the car.

Do I Get All The Money?
Who gets the money depends on whether you own, lease or finance the vehicle. If you own the vehicle, you will be the person paid. On the other hand, if you lease, the leasing company gets the money. And on yet another hand, if you are still paying off the vehicle, then the financing company gets paid. If the vehicle is worth more than you owe, you will get the excess money. But if you owe more than it’s worth, you will owe that difference.

My Car’s Totaled, How Do I Get Around?
If you have rental coverage in your policy, then ask your insurance company to pay for a rental vehicle after your accident. Although, they are not obligated to rent you an identical vehicle, there are exceptions, so always ask. Unfortunately, you cannot rent forever, so ask your insurance adjuster for as much time as possible after your car is paid off, so you can get a new car.

You can trust Durflinger Oliver & Associates to provide quality representation to injured victims in Pierce County. It is our belief that accident victims deserve the best possible representation so that they have the best chance of obtaining fair compensation. To a person who has been damaged, fair compensation can be the difference between recovering fully or not. Call today for a free consultation at our office, your home, or your hospital room.

Call Us 253-683-4180

Durflinger Oliver & Associates PS

711 St. Helens Ave.
Suite 209

Tacoma, WA 98402

Fax: 253-683-4184

Email: jim@durflingeroliver.com

Map and Directions

James E. Oliver, Esq.

James E. Oliver, Esq.


James Edmund Oliver, Jr. is a litigation attorney with over 15 years of experience representing the severely injured. Some of the more common causes of action include slip and fall, car and truck accidents, bicycle accidents and dog bites. James completed his legal studies at Seattle University School of Law where he graduated in 1998 with a Juris Doctor degree. Jim has established himself as respected and zealous advocate.

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