What to Do When Involved in a Car Accident
If you’re involved in a car accident, the actions you take in the moments immediately following the accident are crucial. You need to protect your health, fulfill your legal obligations, and protect your chances of compensation.
None of these steps are hard. But it’s better to know them now instead of trying to remember them after a car accident when you’re likely injured and feeling shaken and emotionally overwhelmed. Here’s what you need to do when you’re involved in a car accident.
At the Scene
At the scene of the crash, the first priority is to make sure you and the other driver are safe. If there is an injury, call 911 to bring the police and paramedics to the scene. If it’s possible, move your car out of the roadway to clear traffic.
Do not leave the scene for any reason! If you leave the scene, you could be accused of hit and run. Not only will you face criminal charges, but it will become much harder for you to get any compensation from an insurance company.
After you make sure the other passengers are okay, stay quiet. You do not want to say something that could be used against you in your claim. Wait for the police and do not claim any liability for your accident, even if you think it’s your fault.
When the Police Arrive
Wait for law enforcement to respond to the scene. When the police arrive, give an accurate description of the accident. Don’t guess about facts that you don’t know or don’t remember. Don’t talk to anyone else on the scene about the accident itself.
After the police are done taking statements, ask for the police report number or crash report before the police officer leaves the scene. These documents are useful in determining who was at fault for the accident itself. Your lawyer can use this number to pull the report.
While the police are there, gather as much evidence as you can. Take photographs of the scene with your phone. Photograph the damage to your car, the other driver’s car, and the scene itself. Taking pictures immediately after the accident will not only show the damage to the cars, but will also include other details like the weather, time of day, flow of traffic, road conditions, etc.
Before You Leave the Scene
After you’ve given your statement and before leaving the accident scene, exchange information with the other driver. Make sure you get the name and insurance information from anyone else involved in the accident as well as the car make, model, color, and year. You will need to provide the same to the other drivers.
Also, talk to witnesses who were not involved in the accident. Ask for the names and phone numbers of anyone willing to talk to the police or come to court to testify about what they saw. You can give this information to your lawyer for follow-up.
See a Doctor, Even if You Don’t Feel Injured
Many people who are involved in an accident aren’t aware of their injuries until days after the accident, likely due to increased adrenaline. If you’re involved in an accident, go to the emergency room or book an appointment with your primary care physician to ensure that you’re not injured.
Seeing a doctor after you’re involved in a car accident will also show that you care about your health to insurance companies. They will often use a delayed doctor’s visit to state your injuries aren’t as bad as you claim.
The company may require you to go to one of their own doctors later, but having another doctor’s opinion soon after the time of the accident will put a second opinion into the record. This is crucial evidence when you’re involved in a car wreck.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Hire a car accident lawyer as soon as possible, preferably before calling the other insurance company. Your attorney can tell you how to approach the insurance company after your involvement in a car accident to maximize your claim.
Do not accept any offers from the insurance company without consulting with a personal injury attorney. Oftentimes, insurance companies will undervalue your case and offer to settle quickly to avoid paying you more money.
In fact, after you hire an attorney and they have studied your case, they can argue on your behalf to get the settlement you truly deserve. Hiring a lawyer will often boost the amount of money you can get from a claim, and you may need it as the bills start coming in.
If you follow these simple rules after you’re involved in a car accident, you’ll be in good shape for the future. You can focus on your recovery instead of your legal obligations or worrying about how to handle the insurance claim.