Being involved in a car accident is devastating, even when the accident is relatively minor. Few things are more frustration than your day being turned upside down due to the negligence of another driver. Your car is damaged, you might have injuries, and now you have to go through insurance, talk to the police, and figure out what to do in the meantime. It’s stressful at best, and it’s devastating at worst. If a loved one is killed or seriously injured, your entire life changes from that point forward. It’s confusing, overwhelming, and unwelcome.
What do I do following a car accident?
The most commonly asked question is what you should do following a car accident, and that’s followed closely by whether it’s all right to provide information to the insurance agent when they ask for it. Before getting into that, it’s important to understand which steps you must take following an accident. The first step is to contact the police. Once the accident occurs, take a few moments to evaluate the situation. If your vehicle is not damaged too badly and the signs along the side of the road urge you to move accident vehicles to the shoulder, please do this.
The next step is to call the police. They must show up on the scene of the accident to file a police report. This report is more than a little important when it comes to getting the insurance information you need in order. The police report includes all witness statements, and it also includes the opinion of the officer who takes the report. It provides details that allow the officer to say who is at fault for the accident, which you must have for your insurance claim.
The next most important thing you can do following an accident is to seek medical attention. Many accident victims forgo doing this in an effort to save time and money assuming they’re fine because the accident is minimal. Just because you don’t see any blood or hurt right away does not mean you’re free of injuries. Many injuries are internal, which means you can’t see them.
In addition to internal injuries, many people suffer from injuries that aren’t visible right away and end up hurting them far worse. You could have whiplash or internal bleeding that only gets worse over time. Sometimes injuries are easier to treat right away than they are to treat when they finally appear a few days or weeks following the accident. If you’re injured badly and don’t know it, your insurance provider might work on denying your claim. If you need help paying medical bills, you want to know right away you’re injured so the insurance company can’t question whether the injury was accident related because you waited so long.
What do I provide to the insurance company?
You do need to follow up with your insurance company by reporting the accident. Call your insurance company to ask what to do, and then call the other driver’s insurance company if it’s their fault and their insurance is handling the case. You want to provide them with details of the accident and the police report. You also want to provide them with your doctor’s diagnosis and any medical bills you’re going to incur in the near future as a result of your accident injuries.
Do not, however, provide the insurance company with a signature allowing them to access your medical records. You may give them what they ask for in terms of injuries related to this specific event, but do not ever allow them to have access to your medical records. The other driver’s insurance agency can use that as free reign to go through your lifelong medical history, which might allow them to determine your injuries from the accident were a result of a pre-existing condition. It could allow them to forgo paying the medical bills you’ve incurred since the accident.
The best way to handle an accident and the insurance company’s requests is with an attorney. A personal injury attorney can help you figure out what they need, what they don’t, and how to handle this situation. You need time to heal and to recover, and an attorney can help provide that by doing the work for you.