Driving in the Chicago metro area can be chaotic. The highways are packed with commuters, commercial vehicles and sightseers alike - some racing by at speeds far in excess of the speed limit, others driving in the center lane at 45 miles per hour, and still more who are distracted or seemingly unaware of their surroundings.
These different driving styles can be a dangerous mix. And even the most careful drivers among us could end up in a serious car accident as a result.
The time period immediately following an accident can be confusing and traumatic, making hard to remember what to do. Which raises the question: If you were ever involved in a catastrophic car accident - especially one involving a fatality - would you know what to do?
Here then, are five things experts recommend you remember to do after a car accident in Chicago:
- Call for help. If you have a cell phone and are able to do so, call 9-1-1 and report the accident. Tell the dispatcher your location as accurately as possible so emergency response vehicles can get to you as quickly as possible.
- Get witness's names and contact information. Don't rely on police to gather the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses to the accident - they may be dealing with more serious, life-threatening issues. If you have a potential claim - and it ends up going to trial - having unbiased witnesses who have no interest in your case may prove helpful.
- Take photos. Try to preserve the scene of the accident until police arrive - and don't move your vehicle unless it's blocking traffic and it's safe and practical to do so. Take photos of the scene as evidence and take careful note of the positions of all vehicles and people involved in the accident.
- Do not admit fault. Although you are required to give your name, address and insurance information to others involved in the accident (via the police, if appropriate), it's often better not to volunteer additional details until speaking to an attorney. It's especially important to avoid apologizing or saying "I'm sorry" (even if you feel the urge to do so) and do not state or admit to anyone that you caused the crash.
- Don't settle a claim without talking to an attorney. In the days following the accident, you may be contacted by an insurance company that wants to discuss the case or offer you money in exchange for not filing a lawsuit. It's extremely important not to talk to an insurer - or settle a claim - without first talking to an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. Insurance companies are not typically on your side and don't necessarily have your best interests at heart.