What to do when involved in a car accident?
What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
Be Sure Stay at the Scene
You never want to leave the accident scene until it’s appropriate for you to do so. The main reason is because, if you flee the scene, particularly where someone has sustained any injuries (many people will fake injury even if there was none) or was killed, you could face serious criminal penalties for the accident being labeled as a crime titled ‘hit-and-run’ and if caught, could be prosecuted.
Be Caring Enough to Check on All Drivers and Passengers
Material possessions can often and most likely be replaced, so have a heart and make sure everyone involved in the accident is in decent condition. If you find someone is hurt in any way that may possibly need medical attention, call an ambulance or provide it yourself if you are certified. For example, if a person is unconscious, has neck or back pain, or any injury involved with motor movements, do not move them. Instead, wait for qualified medical help to arrive to the scene, unless a hazard requires moving the person such as the car being on fire or fumes or something of that nature. After this is done, then worry about the property.
Call the Police
If there is a significant amount of property damage, physical injury, or a death, then you need to call the police. Ask that a police report be filed in situations where cops do arrive at the scene. Be sure to obtain both, the names and badge numbers of all the responding officers.
Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and other basic insurance information from all the drivers involved. If there are passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses. When you are talking to the other drivers, try to be cordial and cooperative so that you have the least resistance.
Be it as it may, you should
always never apologize for anything at the scene of the accident, even if it was your fault. For example, if you say, “I’m so sorry I ran through the red light! Is everyone here okay?” then you may be admitting legal liability for what happened. Immediately after an accident, the person whom may be at fault or most at fault might not be clear. Moreover, in many states, the fault isn’t necessarily determinative of which insurer is going to be expected to pay for any lossage. Therefore, try not to admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily or you will make your chances of having your insurance have to cover it will increase drastically.
Try to Secure Witnesses
Ask every witness what he or she saw occur and if possible, try to retrieve their names, numbers, or addresses, if possible. Ask locals if they’ve ever witnessed other accidents in the same place.
Inform Your Insurance Company
Quickly tell your insurance company that you’ve been involved in an accident. Cooperate with them and tell them the truth about what happened and the extent of your injuries, explaining the facts as clearly as possible. You want to be honest because if the insurance company discovers that you’ve lied to them about anything in regards to the accident, they can void your contract and deny any coverage for the accident. Be sure to obtain and review any police reports filed so you can understand your position and point out who broke what traffic laws or who was at fault.
Keep Track of Your Medical Treatment
Note any doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that any form of treatment has been received from, and also each medical provider that referred you to other caregivers. Keep a very detailed account of the treatments or medications you receive too. Also, always request copies of all medical reports and bills as these help you prove your medical expenses later on down the line.
Medical expenses are relatively easy to be documented and proven, but pain and suffering is a bit trickier to prove. Keep a record or journal of some sort of how your injuries have impacted your daily life. Include any missed workdays, list any routine activities you can’t undertake, and describe how the injuries have affected your family life.
Take Pictures (Most cell phones have a camera nowadays)
Use your phone or any other device you have with camera capabilities to take photographs of any damage to your vehicle immediately after the accident. These photos will help your insurance adjuster determine how much you should be compensated for the damage to your car and will also help in court. Pictures of your car before the accident can offer a great “compare and contrast” to show the true extent of the damage sustained in the accident.
Get a Property Damage Valuation
Obtain your insurance company’s damage valuation. If you aren’t satisfied with how your insurance company has valued your vehicle, you don’t have to settle. Acquire two independent repair estimates or replacement quotes and then compare them. Assertively inform the adjuster of your concerns and if you cannot come to an agreement on your car’s value, then consider some form of mediation or consult an attorney whom will be much better at dealing with the situation.
Use Caution when Discussing the Incident
Do NOT talk to anyone about the accident other than your lawyer, your insurance company, and the police. Don’t talk to a representative of another insurance company, at least not without the knowledge of your attorney or insurer. If called by the other insurance company, just be polite, but demand that they call your attorney or insurer to arrange an interview. Also, tell your lawyer or insurer about the call.
Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers
Be very careful if you’re offered a settlement from an insurance company. Usually when these are offered, they are an immediate solution and are often much lower than the amount you would get to stick out the battle. Confirm all your physical injuries have been treated. Some injuries don’t show up or reach their greatest level of discomfort until many days, weeks, or months later. Don’t settle on a claim until you know that you’ll be compensated for every single one of your injuries, and even still… you need to consult an attorney before signing any settlement documents.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
If anyone was injured in the accident, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you maximize your recovery if you’re injured or better defend yourself if you’re at fault. Many accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means that your lawyer only receives a fee if you’re awarded damages or receive a settlement. Contact an experienced attorney now yo receive a free claim review.