Nobody expects to get into a car accident, and it’s impossible to know how you will react in the event you are involved in one. Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a more major type of accident resulting in serious injuries and damages, you’re likely to be in shock and unsure of exactly what to say or do.
In the heat of the moment, your most immediate concern will usually be making sure everyone is safe, and assessing the damage to your vehicle. You may not be thinking of any potential long-term consequences as a result of the accident, and can end up saying or doing things you regret later.
However, being prepared in the event of a car accident and knowing what to do, as well as what not to do, can make a huge difference both in your driving record as well as with any potential claims you have for damages and injuries. Hopefully you’ll never need them, but if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, our list of dos and don’ts may help to protect your rights to collect damages, as well as protect your driving record.
What To Do Immediately After A Portland Car Accident
Regardless of whether you are the at fault driver in an accident, or are simply the victim of another driver, under Oregon law, all drivers have certain legal obligations in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
The Oregon Code of Laws, Section 811.700 and 750, covers the legal duties and responsibilities of motorists involved in a car accidents. The following contains information regarding duties of drivers involved in accidents:
- Drivers have a duty to stop immediately. Failing to do so could result in charges being brought against you for hit and run, a serious offense resulting in fines and the loss of your license.
- Under Oregon law, you are required to report the accident immediately to law enforcement. Even in the event of a seemingly minor accident, failure to report the incident can result in criminal penalties.
- Drivers have a duty to render aid to victims. Drivers are required to offer aid and assistance to victims and injured persons at the scene of the accident.
- All drivers involved in any way with the accident are required to exchange information at the scene of the accident. Be prepared to provide information such as your name and address, driver’s license and license plate number, and your proof of insurance.
- Drivers must also file an accident report with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles within 72 hours if anyone was injured in the accident, or if there are estimated property damages of $1,500 or more.
For your own protection, get the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene, as well as the name of the officer filing a report. If you have any injuries, regardless of how minor you think your injuries are, get medical attention.
What Not To Do After A Car Accident in Portland
In the aftermath of a car accident, there are a number of things not to do, in order to protect your own interests. These include:
- Don’t discuss or admit fault. In the immediate aftermath, avoid the temptation to discuss who was at fault. Be sure not to make any incriminating statements about your own contributions to the accident when talking to the police, the DMV, or to any insurance company representatives.
- Don’t downplay your injuries. As stated above, oftentimes injuries are more serious than they first appear.
- Don’t make or accept any settlement offers. Don’t offer to pay for any damage you think you may be to blame for, and don’t accept any cash offers at the scene of the accident from other drivers.
- Don’t speak with the insurance company without consulting an attorney. The insurance company is out for one thing: to protect their interests and save themselves money. Before speaking with an insurance company representative and making statements you may later regret, speak with one of our experienced car accident attorneys.
Contact a Portland Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, contact our experienced car accident attorneys. At the Johnston Law Firm, we have experience handling automobile accidents and dealing with insurance company representatives. At a time like this, you need someone representing your best interests. Contact our Portland car accident attorneys for a free review of your case; we’ll help you to receive the compensation you deserve.