What To Do After A Car Accident
Unfortunately for many of us, a car accident (whether a minor fender bender or a multi-vehicle incident) is quite probable for even the most experienced driver. While most of us go about our day-to-day lives not giving it much thought, knowing what to do after a car accident can save all parties involved a lot of unnecessary stress that can come from an auto accident. Here are some steps to take after a car accident.
For Any Accident- Major or Minor:
First and foremost, stay calm. Never leave the scene of the accident. Assess yourself and others for injury and determine if you can and should move yourself to a safe distance from the scene.
If there are significant injuries and/or damage call 911 or call the police and wait for help.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident:
Thankfully, in this case, there are no serious injuries and both parties may agree to exchange insurance information and move on. There isn’t anything illegal in doing so BUT many professionals agree, calling 911 and filing an official accident report – no matter how minor, is highly recommended.
*Remember, most car insurance companies advise that you must not assume responsibility or liability. Do not admit to any wrong-doing under any circumstance.
Whether you make the call or not, you will need to exchange and gather information.
What to Do After a Car Accident Checklist:
- Names of all Parties involved in the accident and phone numbers (including witnesses if necessary)
- Time, Date, Weather, Road and Traffic Conditions
- Description of the Accident, property damage incurred -pictures are always helpful
- License Plate Numbers of all vehicles involved
- Details of police, emergency or tow truck company involvement
Protect your identity. Give out ONLY the following:
- Your Name
- Your vehicle’s make, model, year, color and VIN
- Your Insurance company, policy number, and insurance agent’s contact information
Do NOT give out your address to anyone at the scene nor allow your license and registration to be photographed.
For other Types of Accidents:
If possible, follow the above guidelines for What to Do For a Minor Car Accident.
You will need to obtain descriptions of any injuries and details of emergency professionals involved. This includes investigators and insurance claim adjusters and a police report.
Contact your auto insurance company as soon as you are able to do so. The sooner you do this the sooner the claims process can begin. Some companies have the ability to file a claim online. Whether you choose an electronic format or you speak to an insurance company representative, take notes outlining the conversation including the agent’s name and the date the call/communication took place.
Keep receipts of all expenditures.
When to Call an Attorney:
Many victims are unsure about what to do after a car accident and especially the timing of finally seeking medical attention. Many victims commonly ask, “How long do you have before going to the doctor after a car accident”?
When you are involved in an accident it can be difficult to assess your injuries at first and victims are often unsure of car accident symptoms. Many victims claim that even soft tissue damage can have lingering effects and many drivers and passengers often wish they had sought medical attention. Add to that the cost of being uninsured or underinsured and the accident victim can be looking at extensive medical costs.
If you have been in a serious auto accident and are looking at expenses of $1,000 or more you may benefit from hiring an attorney. Serious considerations for hiring a personal injury attorney can be beneficial especially if the following were involved:
An impaired driver under the influence of a substance
Missed work and wages for which you were not reimbursed
A bus or 18-wheeler
A defective car part
Other situations exist, and an experienced attorney knows how to answer questions and develop a case that an insurance claim representative will not have the time or interest in doing so. Often this is because they would prefer to offer small settlements to avoid going to court. In these types of situations, it is imperative to call an attorney who understands the claims process and will be able to represent you especially if you are unable to carry out the tasks due to impairment from your injuries.
Selecting an Attorney:
If you decide to pursue legal action here are some qualifications to look for in an attorney:
Make sure they are experienced and trained in the type of case you were involved in.
What level of education have they completed and from where?
Is the lawyer professional and courteous?
An experienced attorney will often not require up-front payment from clients and some will only seek payment if the client wins.
For all drivers young (and the more experienced), it’s always good to have a conversation about what to do after a car accident. This can potentially save you and your family time and money after a troublesome incident. Safe Travels!