What You Should Do After A Car Accident.
Over six million car accidents occur each year in the United States. Fortunately, most of them involve only property damage - damage to the vehicle as opposed to the occupants. The following is a list of the top ten things you should do if you are in an automobile accident:
Never, ever, drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one.
Make sure your car is no longer moving, turn off the engine, shift into park, or set the hand brake if you drive a manual. Check to make sure it's safe to get out of your car before opening the door. If you have flares or similar road safety items, consider using them.
2. Move to a safe area (if you can).
If it's safe to do so and you aren't seriously injured, move your car out of further harm's way, like to the shoulder of the road.
If moving your car just isn't possible, flip on your hazards to warn other drivers that your vehicle isn't going anywhere any time soon.
3. Call the police.
Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police.
You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle. The vehicles involved in the accident should remain where they are, unless they interfere with traffic.
4. Make an accurate record.
Let the police objectively judge events and determine who, if anyone, is at fault in the crash. Cooperate fully, but avoid admitting fault or blaming others while at the scene.
Try to write down as much info as possible in the accident aftermath, including:
- Driver and passenger names
- License plate numbers
- Insurance info
- Makes and models of all vehicles involved
- Contact info for any eyewitnesses
- Location of the accident
- The name and badge number of any responding police officers
5. Take photos.
If you have a smartphone with a camera, snap some photos of the accident scene. They'll come in handy during the claim process.
If you have visible injuries, you should photograph them as well. However, you should in no way interfere with the on-going police investigation. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
6. Exchange information.
Typically, the investigating police officer obtains this information. However, if the police do not respond to the accident, you should obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, drivers and passengers alike.
You should also obtain information about insurance by asking to see the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, you should get information from them as well so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. If police respond to the accident, the investigating officer usually will provide all drivers with a police report number. You can use that number later to obtain the police report. If the accident occurs on a state highway, you must request the report from the state police.
An unexpected car accident can leave you feeling a bit scattered. That's why it's important to brush up on post-accident procedures now, when you're good and levelheaded.
7. File a report.
Make sure to notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. Find out if you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage.
8. Contact us.
Perhaps the most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult your attorney.
Your attorney can protect your rights and make sure valuable evidence is not destroyed. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle to how to make sure you are getting the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.