Car accidents happen every day across the state of Wisconsin. Despite being a common occurrence, many drivers do not know the proper steps to take when a car accident does happen. Even if you are fortunate enough to have never been involved in an auto accident, knowing the steps to take if one should happen is important.
First and foremost, any person involved in an accident must not leave the scene of the crash. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in Wisconsin and an offender could face fines ranging from $300-$100,000 and jail time of up to 25 years if convicted.
The law in Wisconsin says that an auto accident must be reported if it resulted in any injury or death, damage of $200 or more to any state or government owned property other than a vehicle, or if the damage to any vehicle involved appears to have sustained damage of $1,000 or more. Wisconsin Stat. Sec. 346.70, which is entitled Duty to report accident; assistance following accident, states that if injury or damage to any one vehicle in excess of $1,000 occurs, the owner or occupant must notify authorities using the quickest means of communication possible. Nowadays this can happen almost instantaneously since most people carry cell phones with them wherever they go.
If the police are not called to the scene to make a report, the operator of the vehicle involved must file a written report of the accident within ten (10) days of the crash to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The crash form application that must be filled out to appropriately report the crash can be found online at www.wisconsindot.gov.
It is also important to exchange information with the other parties involved. Do not leave the accident scene without writing down, or taking a photograph of, key information. This pertinent information includes name, address and telephone number of the other parties involved in the crash. You should obtain the driver’s license number and license plate number for all other parties as well. It is also very important to exchange insurance information, especially if the accident was not your fault. If police arrive on the scene, they will typically assist the parties in obtaining and exchanging this important information.
Safety must remain your top priority at the scene of an accident. If it is not possible to safely move the vehicles out of traffic, it is best to remain inside your vehicle until law enforcement arrives. If it is possible to safely move the vehicles out of traffic, you should do so. There may be other traffic attempting to get through or past the scene, and you do not want to risk being stuck by a passing vehicle in an attempt to assess the damage or talk to the other parties involved. It is best to remain in your vehicle until police arrive to direct traffic and secure the area.
Once it is safe to do so, use your cell phone to take photographs of the damage to all vehicles involved in the crash. Photographs of the scene of the accident can be some of the best pieces of evidence, particularly in a case where liability – or who caused the accident – is being disputed or called into question. Because it is not uncommon for stories to change or people to be untruthful about how a crash really happened, photographs are often helpful in piecing together how a crash occurred based upon points of impact and location of the damage on the vehicles involved.
Be honest with officers as you tell them how you recall the crash occurring and whether or not you were injured in the crash. If you are experiencing any pain, it is important that you report it even if you do not believe you need to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. If you do have pain following an accident, you should seek care immediately at an Emergency Room. Do not wait for several days hoping that the pain will subside. Your health should be your number one priority after being involved in a motor vehicle crash. It is better to be safe than sorry. Get the care you need right away to ensure that you are on the fastest road to recovery.
If you are instructed to receive follow up care, it is crucial that you follow the doctor’s orders. Do not let large gaps in your treatment occur. Insurance companies use large gaps in care to devalue bodily injury claims on the basis that if the claimant was truly injured in the accident, he or she would have sought the care they needed in a timely manner. When gaps in care occur, insurance companies believe that the care is more likely related to something else that occurred during the gap in time rather than from the auto accident. While treatment does take time and adds to already busy schedules, it is the key to making a full recovery.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, the Groth Law Firm may be able to help. We tell all of our clients and potential new clients that our goal is to take the burden of being in an accident off of their shoulders so that they can get their lives back on track as quickly and easily as possible. We do all of the heavy lifting so that all our clients need to focus on is receiving the care they need to recover and feel better. We know that being involved in a car accident is frustrating and overwhelming, and we don’t want our clients to go through it alone.
The team at Groth Law Firm combined has decades of experiencing fighting to protect the rights of those injured as a result of the negligence of others. Groth Law Firm offers free consultations and is available to speak with injured victims seven days a week. If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident, call us at (414) 375-2030 today.