Hopefully, you never find yourself in this situation: You’ve been in a car accident. Now you are asking yourself, “What should I do after a car accident?” Some people freeze, some resort to prior training – we are hoping that you will be able to remember this article to protect your health and your property.
Whether you’re sitting at a red light, taking a Sunday drive, or just getting home from work, a car accident can happen at any point and for many reasons.
It could be that someone is on their phone and didn’t see you, their car malfunctions and doesn’t stop in time, or they are still learning how to drive and make a simple mistake… you get the point.
The fact of the matter is, car accidents happen every day. So, you should know what to do after a car accident.
If you are like the majority of the population and do not work in the car insurance industry, emergency response services, personal injury law or something similar, you likely will not know what to do after a car accident.
By seeking immediate medical help, documenting and taking pictures of the car accident, there are definite and clear actions everyone should take if you find yourself in this awful scenario.
Read below to get an overview of the guidance that our law firm can provide for anyone that is asking themselves, “What should I do after a car accident?”
- Get everyone out of danger and immediately seek medical care.
Get to safety after a car accident. This might seem obvious, but if you are in a car accident – you will likely find yourself in the road way. If you can drive your vehicle, move it safely out of the roadway. Get yourself and others out of danger by evacuating the roadway and finding a safe place to assess any injuries and damages. The worst thing you can do in this situation is incur more injuries by staying in a dangerous area.
Okay, so now you’re safe, now what?
Even if you don’t feel something that is painful right away, that doesn’t mean you aren’t injured. Be prepared to at least let a paramedic check you over to be sure that you have no internal injuries or injuries hidden by adrenaline.
You want to let a medical professional know if you have any concerns at all. Not every injury means you see blood, notice a broken bone, or can no longer move your toes.
Pay attention to how you are feeling in the days following the accident. If you are feeling pain or discomfort, seek medical attention right away. Insurance companies will take note if you do not seek medical attention in the first 24 hours following the accident.
- Call 911
Even if no one seems to be hurt and the accident seems to be mild, you still need to contact the police to file a police report after a car accident. The importance of this step is crucial in case the other party decides to claim they were not at fault, or if they change the story of what happened. The police report will provide proof of the original story.
The police may not offer a record of their police report right away, but you can request it from the officer on the scene if it is ready, or you can contact the police station afterwards to get a copy of the car accident police report.
If you do obtain these records, remember to always keep the original copy. Never send the original copy to anyone else. Only send copies of the report, if necessary.
- Document Damage To Your Property
After everyone has had medical attention and the accident has been documented, the next step is to collect your own evidence. Make sure that you are documenting on paper or phone any damage to your property from the accident.
All damages, even minor ones, should be documented. Make note of anything you notice that is different. Anything from a broken laptop, small dents on your car to damage caused by vehicle fire. Take careful notes when you are documenting, you do not want to miss something that ends up costing thousands down the line.
Much like your body, if your car doesn’t get checked out right away and then you find damage at a later day, it could cause your claim to be denied or diminished. The more information you can give to the insurance company early on, the easier your claim process will be.
Take a lot of photos and videos. The most valuable information you can acquire is photo and video evidence. Make sure you have covered every possible angle on your car and other cars involved in the car accident, to ensure nothing is left to debate later in the claim process.
Too many times, people get into an accident and leave without taking photos. Frequently enough, people underestimate how much evidence is vulnerable to misinterpretation. Insurance companies will easily deny your claim due to lack of evidence. Make sure all your bases are covered before you leave the scene of the accident.
If you don’t have a smartphone or any way to take pictures, try to find something to write with or ask a bystander to take pictures and send them to you. Preparation of evidence here will go a long way if you find yourself with any legal issues from the car accident.
- Limit conversation with the other party
It seems rude to ignore the other party involved in an accident, but in this case it is in your best interest to have as limited conversation as possible. If someone comes up to you and strikes up a conversation, you may be swayed to let them off the hook for the accident, or the conversation could jeopardize any claims you may make in the future.
Only talk to the other party long enough to determine any injuries and swap information. A helpful tip is to have a form with your most basic information, (i.e. name, address, phone number, email address, car’s VIN, insurance carrier) as a convenient method to share information.
Having this form can prevent much of the conversation and allow you to focus on the more important things: your health and the health of those in the car accident.
Another reason to communicate as little as possible with the other party is they may try to be sneaky and try to get you to admit fault. Even if it can be proven that you were the one who was hit, but you admitted you were at-fault, then it gives the insurance companies an opportunity to frame you as at-fault, which is what you don’t want.
- File your claim
After all the information has been exchanged with the other party, make sure you call their insurance company to file the claim, if you believe the other driver is at-fault. You should also alert your own insurance company that your vehicle was involved in an accident, even if it was not your fault.
Call their insurance first and file the claim, or at least notify them that an accident has occurred and let them know you will be in contact to finish filing the claim later.
Never commit to any sort of arrangement for repairs or compensation through the other driver. If you choose to see “their guy” at some shop, you risk more things going wrong in the claim process or having your claim totally denied.
Not only that, but you could be potentially putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Filing through an insurance company ensures damages will be repaired by a reputable repair company, not some random person in their garage.
It may be a good idea to contact an auto accident lawyer to help you navigate the intricate legal and insurance process.
If you’re asking yourself “What should I do after a car accident” follow these 5 steps.
- Get to safety after a car accident & seek medical care.
- Call 911 to file a police report.
- Document property damage.
- Limit conversation with other parties.
- File your claim.
If you find yourself in the middle of a car accident, follow the steps above. Each situation is different and the tiny details might change depending on the situation.
Having read this guide, you should be well on your way to making sure you never end up asking yourself “What should I do after a car accident.” If you are severely injured, it is in your best interest to reach out to a reputable law firm that handles personal injury claims.