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Collision course: Prior preparation can prevent problems

No matter how careful of a driver you are, accidents happen. In fact, on the streets of New Orleans and the surrounding suburbs, they unfortunately happen quite a bit. When and if a collision does occur, you're likely to be shocked, upset and a bit frazzled, along with being uncertain of what to do first and how to best to handle the immediate aftermath.

So what do you do? Well, for starters, planning now on the off-chance that you may eventually need to employ these techniques later can go a long way toward helping you stay calm in an extremely stressful situation. No one expects to have an accident, of course, and hopefully you'll never have to take these measures. But the more prepared you are, the more smoothly things may go in the unlucky event that you are involved in a crash.

Steps to take in the immediate aftermath

First and foremost, your health and safety—along with that of any other involved parties—is always most important. As such, in cases of minor accidents or fender-benders, the first thing you'll want to do is move all vehicles involved out of the way of traffic to a safe location and turn on your hazard lights.

Next, you'll want to assess yourself and everyone else for injuries and call an ambulance if you're in any doubt whatsoever. Of course, in more severe crashes, calling 9-1-1 is the first thing you'll want to do. Then, even in an accident you initially believe is relatively minor, you'll want to call the police, as their official report may prove invaluable later, both during the claims process and if you need to pursue compensation. While waiting for officers to arrive, you'll want to gather information, including:

  • The names and contact information of drivers and passengers as well as any witnesses
  • Driver's license numbers
  • A description of the vehicles, including make, model, year and license plate numbers
  • Insurance information, both the company name and the policy numbers
  • The location where the accident took place
  • Photos of the accident scene and vehicles, if possible

You'll want to be polite and honest but avoid admitting fault or agreeing with anyone who indicates you caused the collision—even if you fear it may be true—and you'll also want to avoid signing any papers or documentation unless a police officer instructs you to do so. Additionally, you'll wish to write down the police officer's name and badge number to make retrieving the reports easier should you need to access the information later for legal or insurance purposes.

Filing a claim

Depending on your auto insurance, you may actually be able to start the process of filing an insurance claim over the phone from the scene of the accident, then fill in the details at a later time after things become clearer. Of course, you may simply be too shaken—auto accidents can be traumatic and scary no matter how minor—so you may choose to wait, but you'll still want to notify your insurance agent as soon as you can manage.

Additionally, if you did suffer serious injuries at the fault of the other driver, you may also wish to consider exploring your legal options. Unfortunately, insurance companies are sometimes hesitant to pay out the full amount of funds you may need to recuperate regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accident. A Louisiana attorney with experience in motor vehicle accidents and personal injury claims can fight on your behalf to help get you the just compensation you deserve for your medical bills, your pain and suffering, and more.

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Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC
1101 Westbank Expressway
Gretna, LA 70053

Phone: 504-433-5550
Fax: 504-433-5556
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