According to the recent numbers reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 6.2 million traffic crashes occur each year in the US. Luckily, most of them involve only damage to the vehicle as opposed to the occupants. Still, every third crash involves personal injury to the driver or passengers and two out of every ten accidents lead to fatal injuries.
From personal injuries to damaged property and the legal complexities involved, you may be uncertain about what to do after you find yourself in a car accident. Even if there are no injuries, dealing with an accident can be mentally frustrating and a stressful ordeal.
Things to do after you get into a car accident:
No matter how carefully you drive, as long as there are other careless and inattentive drivers on the road, there will be accidents. If you get yourself into a car accident, there are certain things you should do to protect yourself and your interests.
It may be tough to focus on the situation in the immediate aftermath of an accident; however, we have compiled few suggestions that will help you get the compensation you need for any damages including medical expenses and lost wages. To get started, here are the 6 things you should immediately do after you get into an automobile accident:
1. Pullover and seek immediate medical help:
Often, vehicle accident injuries are not immediately visible. Some injuries are not apparent, and their symptoms appear after days or even weeks. Unless you are absolutely sure you weren’t injured, you should immediately seek medical attention. However, before going to the hospital or local emergency room, take a moment and notice the things around you. Check the license plate of the other vehicle and how many people were in the car.
Even in a car accident involving a minor impact, there is a possibility of sustaining a severe injury. Make sure you get out of traffic and inspect yourself and your passengers so that other cars aren’t stopped on the road.
2. Call the police:
Even if there are no injuries caused by the accident, it is a good idea to call the police. In some states, it is legally required. The officer will document the scene and fill out the accidental report. If the policemen aren’t able to come to the accident scene, you should visit the nearest police station and complete the report yourself.
You may require the police report when you file a claim with your insurance company. This is also the case even if it is a claim just for the damage to the car. The vehicles in the accident should remain at the accident scene unless they hinder the flow of traffic.
3. Exchange information:
After ensuring the safety of everyone involved in the accident, you should exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. It is usually the job of the investigating police officer to obtain this information. But if the police do not respond immediately, you should obtain the name, address, and contact details of all the parties involved in the crash. Talk to the witnesses at the scene, and gather their contact information for future use.
The information that the driver’s exchange after an accident should include:
- Full name and contact information
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Insurance information
- Location of accident
- Colour, make and model of the vehicle
Avoid discussing fault by exchanging information with the other driver. This is because when you file an insurance claim, the adjuster will determine who is at fault. It is done by inspecting the damaged vehicles, the information provided by both the parties, and any supporting documentation from the crash scene.
4. Document the accident:
Once the investigating officers arrive, tell them what exactly happened. Do not speculate or misstate any of the facts. If you aren’t sure about a certain fact, tell this to the officer. You should also make sure that the statements made by the other party are accurate. Follow the steps provided below to further secure yourself.
- Get a copy:
After the police officers are done with the documentation, ask them for a copy of the report. Check for any errors or omission of facts. Your insurer may ask for a copy when you are filing an insurance claim.
- Take pictures:
An excellent way to document an accident is by taking pictures from various angles, both of your vehicle and the accident scene. The photos should show the damage done to both the vehicles. You should also take a picture of the license plate of the other vehicle. Sharing these photos with your insurer will help and support your claim during the claims process.
- Write down contact details of witnesses:
If there are witnesses present at the crash scene, write down their names and addresses. This is done to contact them in the future for more information.
5. Notify your insurer:
You may also contact your insurance company while you are at the accident scene. Your insurance agent will tell what you need to do next and what they will require to process your claim. They will also tell you about the things you should avoid which will weaken your claim. This would include the admission of guilt or signing any document that hasn’t been reviewed by your insurer.
6. Protect your right:
It is up to the insurance agent to determine who is at fault and the financial liability of each party. But you should contact your attorney to protect your right. Insurance companies often want to take statements immediately after an accident; so, make sure you receive legal advice from your attorney before providing any statements to the insurance company.
An attorney can be quite helpful when you are involved in a nasty accident. Even if your car ends up at some scrap my car for cash junkyard, your attorney can make sure that you are compensated for it. They will also make sure that you get the best medical treatment available.
A car accident can leave even the seasoned drivers frazzled. We hope you don’t find yourself in an accident in the first place. But if you do, the above tips will make it easier for you to handle the situation.