Protecting Your Rights: What to Do After a Motor Vehicle Accident
Updated: Mar 1
"Our goal at The Oakes Firm is to empower victims of motor vehicle accidents to take control of their recovery and protect their rights. We hope this guide serves as a valuable resource for anyone who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, and we encourage anyone who needs additional assistance to contact us for a free consultation."
The Oakes Firm can help you at any point after you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident. But there are certain things you can take to help us build the strongest case possible. By following these steps, we can work together to maximize your recovery:
Step 1 – Make Sure You and Your Family are Safe
After a motor vehicle crash, your first priority should be to make sure you and your family are safe. This means removing yourself from the immediate zone of danger or future danger and letting others know there has been an accident – e.g., move your vehicle to the side of the road; put your flashers on; or if your vehicle is on fire, get you and your vehicle occupants out and off to the side of the road and out of harm’s way.
Step 2 – Call 911
Pennsylvania law requires that you report any car accident that involves injury, death, or severe damage to one or more of the vehicles. But it our recommendation that you always call the police if you are involved in an accident and ask for a police report. The responding officer may take inventory of the scene, question witnesses to the accident, take pictures, or cite the other driver for any traffic violations – all of this may be useful evidence in a potential lawsuit. The police should provide you with a police report number that The Oakes Firm can secure once completed.
Step 3 – Collect Information and Evidence
While waiting for the police and emergency personnel to arrive, it is important to collect information and evidence at the scene of the accident. ID you are too injured to do so, ask someone else, if possible.
If anyone was injured or killed, the law requires that the drivers exchange:
We recommend you take photographs of the other driver’s license (front and back), vehicle registration, and insurance.
Write down the following:
Time, Date, and Location of the Accident
Weather and Roadway Conditions
Contact Information of Everyone Involved in the Crash (Drivers and Passengers)
Contact Information of all Bystanders that Witnessed the Crash, the Events Leading up to the Crash, or the Aftermath
Take as many photographs or videos as possible (and then send them to a secured email address) of:
The Crash Scene Closeup and from a Distance (and From Multiple Angles)
Mile Markers, Street Signs, and Traffic Signage
The Vehicles (Inside and Outside) Including License Plates and Any Damage
The People Involved in the Accident
Bystanders or Witnesses at the Scene
We recommend sending everything to a secure email address or the cloud.
Step 4 – Get Medical Treatment As Soon As Possible
Proper documented medical care is critical following a motor vehicle accident for both your wellbeing and a potential lawsuit. You should seek medical treatment immediately – defense attorneys and insurance carriers will argue that a delay in treatment means you deserve less money.
Make sure to carefully explain all of your symptoms of pain and discomfort to your doctor so they can properly diagnose you and prescribe proper treatment. If you are prescribed physical therapy or imaging studies, be sure to follow these instructions closely – again, insurance companies and defense attorneys will know if you did not listen to your doctor and use it to pay you less. You should also know that pain symptoms do not always present themselves right away, so follow up with your doctor if you are experiencing new pain in the days following your motor vehicle accident.
Otherwise, be sure to note every place where you treated in connection with your injuries and what doctors you saw. If you pursue legal claims, this will make it much easier for your attorney to locate and secure all of your medical records.
Step 5 – Contact The Oakes Firm
You should contact The Oakes Firm as early as possible, but especially before speaking with any insurance company – even if it’s your own. We can help you navigate the legal process and make sure you get the proper medical treatment for your injuries. Also, we can take steps to preserve critical evidence in a potential lawsuit such as the vehicles involved in the crash, surveillance video of the crash, and locate potential witnesses – these may be gone forever after only a few days delay.
Again, never speak with an insurance company – even your own – until you talk to a lawyer. All insurance company calls are recorded, and insurance company agents are trained to elicit information that may limit your ability to collect money. Remember, insurance companies make more money by paying you less.
No matter how large or small your motor vehicle accident, we encourage you to contact The Oakes Firm as soon as possible so we can help maximize the amount of money in a settlement or lawsuit. We can walk you through your legal options, preserve all relevant evidence, and assist you in getting the proper medical treatment.
Step 6 – Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Once you speak with an attorney, you should report the accident to your insurance company. These kinds of reports are usually done over the phone and involve explaining the facts of what happened. The information you collect at the scene of the accident can help with these reports.