Did you know that around 6 million Americans are involved in a car accident each year? This not only results in many injuries and deaths but also leads to costly insurance claims and legal battles.
Not knowing what to do after an accident can raise your stress levels even more than the incident itself. It also means you might miss out on steps that help you with your insurance claim or any legal settlement later.
Luckily, you can get prepared so that you keep you and your passengers safe, contact the necessary parties, and get importance evidence needed for your claim. Read on to learn seven steps to handle a vehicle accident.
1. Stay Still and Check for Injuries
When you have an auto accident, avoid moving the vehicles unless you’re in an unsafe place. Moving the vehicles makes it harder to collect evidence and determine fault for the accident. So, leave the vehicles as-is unless you need to pull over to avoid putting other drivers at risk.
Once you’re in a safe place, check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. Avoid the temptation to move yourself or others who may have broken bones or head injuries. If you feel you can’t move, you can wait for emergency workers to check on your passengers.
2. Call for Help
You should call 911 whenever you have a car accident. You might feel tempted to not want to bother the police over a little fender bender. But this can put you in legal trouble since some locales require the reporting of any car or motorcycle accident.
Not only will you be able to get any necessary medical personnel, but a police officer will be sent to you to file the police report. In some cases like bad weather, the local police may not be able to respond to all accidents. But you can still personally visit after the car accident and file the report.
3. Share Information With the Other Driver
You’ll want to share some key information with the other driver while you’re still at the scene. This will ensure a smoother insurance claim and legal process, if necessary.
This information should include detailed contact information and the policy information shown on the insurance card. You should also exchange license plate numbers and driver’s license numbers. Also, document the vehicle’s color, type, and model along with the location where the vehicle accident happened.
4. Collect Evidence for the Accident
When you’re still at the scene, take pictures of all vehicles involved. Be sure to get a detailed look at any image as well as the position of the vehicles. Your insurance company can use these pictures to help determine fault and compensation.
If anybody else saw the auto accident, request witness statements that explain their perspectives of the incident. You’ll also need their names and contact information in case the police, attorney, or insurer has questions.
You’ll also need a copy of your police report as well as any documents you get regarding your medical care. Your insurer and accident attorney will likely request them. Also, document the badge numbers and names of the officers who responded to your accident.
5. Get Any Other Necessary Medical Help
If you’re not rushed to emergency care, go get help for any injuries as soon as you finish at the scene. This is especially important if you’re dizzy, disoriented, or in serious pain since you could have a serious injury.
Consider going to the emergency room or urgent care right away to get checked out. Have your doctor give you documentation that states any injuries from the accident and costs incurred. Your insurance company and attorney will ask for this.
When the doctor suggests treatments or gives you instructions, follow them exactly. Avoid ending your treatment early or ignoring your doctor’s appointments. You can find that your legal case will suffer when you don’t comply with your doctor’s orders.
6. Begin the Insurance Claims Process
After you’ve handled any immediate medical needs, collected evidence, and dealt with the authorities, give your insurance company a call. It’s preferable to do this while you’re still at the scene, but if you forget, call them as soon as possible.
Provide any information about the accident requested. This can include submitting the police report, medical documents, and any repair estimates.
You’ll also want to ask your insurance agent about the length of the claims process and any procedures for handling repairs. For example, find out where you should take your car for any estimates and whether you can get a rental car in the meantime. You should also know about the disputes process.
7. Consider Contacting an Accident Attorney
If your accident resulted in serious injuries or property damage, you may find it in your best interest to consult an accident attorney. You might also consider an attorney if you have trouble with your insurance company. Getting this legal advice can help you get the best compensation.
You’ll want to find someone who specializes in your case and can provide the right expertise. So, if you were in a motorcycle accident, you’d seek a motorcycle accident attorney rather than a car accident attorney.
You’ll usually start with a consultation where you can discuss the accident and bring documentation. Stay in touch with your attorney throughout the claims process to provide updates you hear from your doctor or car insurance company.
Now You’re Prepared to Handle a Vehicle Accident
Nobody ever hopes to have a vehicle accident. But at least you now have a checklist to follow if this unfortunate event happens to you.
You can also take a few more steps to get prepared. Be sure to have a current car insurance card with you whenever you’re driving. Also, keep your mobile phone charged (and have a charger with you) so you’re ready to report the accident and get help in an emergency.
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