Being involved in an unexpected car accident can leave you in a scattered state, not to mention the injuries you may have sustained. Not that you ever want to plan for such an event, but it does not hurt to know ahead of time what to do. Making sure you are aware of what should occur moments after an accident can relieve some of the stress and make the insurance claims process run smoother.
Here are eight things that should take place.
1. Do not Leave the Scene
Never leave the scene of an accident until it is the right time to do so. The law considers this act a hit-and-run driver. Leaving, especially if someone was injured or killed, means you could face serious criminal charges for this type of violation.
If possible, make sure all drivers and passengers are okay, and do not require immediate medical attention. If a person appears unconscious or has back or neck pain, do not move them before qualified EMTs arrive. The only exception is if leaving them creates a hazard.
2. Call the Police
The police should be called after an accident so that you have a report of the incident. Get the name and badge numbers of the officers who respond.
3. Exchange Information with All Drivers Involved in the Accident
Make sure you get contact information from all drivers involved in the accident. This includes:
• Phone numbers
• Home addresses
• Drivers’ license numbers
• Number from their license plates
• Insurance information
In addition, get contact information from any passengers of the vehicles. Make sure you do not apologize for anything while still at the scene. This could later be used as an admission of guilt.
4. Take Pictures of Any Damage to Your Car
Taking pictures will help the insurance adjuster access how much damage was done to your car. They will use this information to determine how much you should be compensated. If you have pictures before the accident, these can offer a compare and contrast that shows the extent of the damage.
5. Speak with Witnesses
Speak with witnesses about what they saw. Make sure you also get their contact information.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
As soon as possible, call your insurance company and let them know you were in an accident. Tell them the truth about what occurred and the extent of your injuries and property damage. Obtain the valuation from your insurance company. If you believe they have not given you a fair valuation, get two independent repair estimates or quotes to replace your vehicle if it is a total loss.
7. Keep Detailed Records of Your Medical Treatment
Your medical records are very important if you plan to file a claim against the party or parties responsible for the accident. Maintain records of doctors, physical therapists and any other medical professional from whom you have received treatment. Make sure your records include the types of treatment and medications.
Additionally, keep copies of medical reports and expenses that will help you prove the total costs of your treatments to get better. Include a record of how these injuries have impacted your life such as missing days from work and routine activities that may have diminished your quality of life.
8. Consider Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have injuries after a car accident, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney. You need someone who is skilled and knowledgeable about the laws in your area. He or she can help to maximize the damages you receive.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that your attorney only receives a fee for his or her services once you receive a settlement.