Getting into a car accident can be a terrifying experience. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know the first steps to take after a car accident. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to keep a level head. It’s easy for all parties to get overwhelmed, and it does no good to belligerently assert blame or feel unnecessary guilt. The safety of all drivers and passengers is most important.
Ensure Safety of All Parties
First and foremost, after a car accident, take the time to ensure that all people involved in the accident are safe. Make sure there are no leaks and that everybody is as far away from a vehicle as possible if leaks are present. Take any steps necessary to assist all passengers in safely exiting each vehicle involved in the accident. If any passengers are unconscious, do your best to make sure they are free from danger until paramedics arrive. If someone is seriously injured, it is usually not a good idea to move them if you are not medically qualified.
Report the Accident Right Away
After a car accident, a police report will need to be filed on the accident so that all information is adequately compiled. You will be required to share your license and insurance information with both the police officers on the scene and the driver(s) of any other vehicle(s) involved in the accident. Make sure to remain at the scene until first responders arrive, all drivers and passengers have been cleared or transported for medical treatment, and all necessary reports have been filed.
Gather Witness Testimony
Sometimes, your perception isn’t the most reliable. If you have passengers, get their perceptions. Get the perceptions of the other driver(s) and passengers and those of other drivers or onlookers who weren’t involved but remained at the scene. If possible, try to obtain the contact information of each witness. You never know what questions may come up later or what critical details some witnesses will recall at a later time that they didn’t realize at the scene.
Take Pictures Of The Accident Scene And Surrounding Areas
Take clear photos from every possible angle of every vehicle involved in the accident. Get all the cars together as well as the individual close up shots. It will also be important to get pictures of the intersection or roadway where the accident took place. Take note of stop signs and other road signs, lights, the presence of arrows (or lack thereof), skid marks, etc. If you heard one of the witnesses express something specific that can either be backed up or negated by photographs, make sure to get those shots, as well. For example, one driver may wear that the other driver had a stop sign, but there was actually a yield sign.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
You will want to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. It is recommended that you start the process by calling your insurance company and launching a claim while at the scene of the accident if at all possible. Try to remain as objective as possible when discussing the wreck with the claims agent. It’s important to be honest – even if you were at fault. Consequences for filing a false insurance claim or knowingly providing false information can be severe. Remember that your insurance company may not always perform the most logical cost valuation. If you are not satisfied with the results of your insurance adjuster having reviewed the damage to your vehicle, you can also acquire two independent estimates.
Do Not Refuse Medical Attention
It is standard practice for paramedics to arrive on the scene of a car accident. Severe injuries are not always immediately apparent. If at all possible, you should at least allow paramedics to examine you. If you feel any pain whatsoever, you may consider accompanying the paramedics to the hospital for further examination.
Keep Track of All Expenses Related to Your Accident
If you were injured in the accident, it will be important for you to retain all doctor records. You are also encouraged to document any time off work or any other loss or expenses you incurred as a result of the collision. If your car is non-operable as a result of the accident and your insurance does not cover the cost of a rental, for example, make sure to keep records of these types of expenses, as well.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
If you and/or your passengers sustained injuries as a result of the accident, you are advised to hire an attorney. A personal injury attorney can help to ensure that you receive the full financial compensation to which you are entitled. An experienced lawyer will also be able to provide you references to quality medical providers who will work closely with your legal team to make sure that all of your records are handled appropriately and your medical treatments are well documented.
Be Suspicious of Early Settlement Offers
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to offer a settlement to an injured party. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney before accepting any offers. Many automobile injuries worsen over time, and the level of care that will be required can’t always be anticipated accurately. Accepting early settlement offers will destroy any chances of receiving further compensation offered in the future if medical bills wind up costing more than the amount of the settlement that was.
Refrain From Discussing the Accident with Anybody
After providing all the required information and details to the police, you should only discuss your automobile accident with your attorney and your insurance provider. The opposing insurance company may call you and want to speak with you. It is highly advised that you contact your attorney and set up a time during which your lawyer can field questions and advise your answers.
It’s no doubt that getting into an automobile accident is one of the most stressful situations a person can experience. If you try to rely on logic over emotion, though, you will find that dealing with the aftermath of a collision doesn’t necessarily have to cause you additional stress. Remember that people understand the tragedy, and there may be some bills you’re unable to pay. Be honest with your creditors, and be consistent in receiving medical treatments. It may take up to a year or more, but your settlement will come if you have incurred injury and loss as a result of your accident and hired a personal injury attorney.