Accidents happen every day, and often they come from out of nowhere, leaving us unprepared for and overwhelmed by the damage in their wake. One of the most common types of accidents that almost everyone faces at one time or another in their life is a car accident.
Involvement in a car accident can have many consequences that you have to deal with, from the immediate damage to your vehicle and any passengers in the car and the damage to the other property or vehicles and people involved, to the far reaching effects of lost wages, disabilities, insurance rate hikes, and even lawsuits.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you need to take immediate steps to protect yourself from further damages and repercussions. You may be overwhelmed, but doing these six things following a car accident will help you both immediately and long-term.
Immediately take steps to protect yourselves and others from further damage.
Pull over to a safe place immediately, even if you think the accident was minor. Never, ever drive away from the scene of an accident.
Once you have secured the safety of your vehicle, determine how you can best keep others from running into you or your vehicle, especially if it is dark out. Use your hazard lights, set up flares, and use a flashlight if possible.
As soon as you are satisfied that your accident is not going to be the cause of another one, call the police. It is not your place to determine if there are injuries or damages – let the police do their job. You may need this police report anyway should you end up having to file a claim with your insurance company.
Do as much as you can to record evidence.
Give your statement to the investigating officer when they arrive on the scene. Keep it factual – avoid guessing or speculation. When you are asked if you have any injuries, never say no, say that you are unsure. Remember that many times injuries and pain from a car accident can occur hours, days, or even weeks later.
Be sure that the statements made by the other parties are accurate. If you have a camera or cell phone camera, take pictures of any visible damage. Be sure you stay out of the way of any police investigation, though. If it’s not possible to take pictures at the scene, be sure you get them as soon as possible after the investigation is over and you have left the accident site.
Don’t leave without exchanging information with the other driver(s).
It should be on the police report, but that information may not be available to you for immediate access. You will need the name, address, and phone number of the other driver and any passengers in the vehicle. You will also want to get their insurance information, usually by looking at their insurance card.
If you know of any witnesses to the accident, be sure to try and get their information also. You may need to contact them in the future, especially if you end up filing a lawsuit.
A police report number should be given to you by the investigating officer, and you can use this number to obtain the police report later. Meanwhile, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
When you report your accident to your insurance company, be sure to ask for details of your policy.
Whether you feel that you are injured or not, you should know what benefits you have available to you. You may have medical benefits, or medpay, that you pay extra for, so this will cover any medical bills up to a certain amount incurred by the accident. This medical payment benefit is available for you and any passengers in your vehicle.
Have a medical professional review your health after an accident.
There are many instances where an injury sustained in a motor vehicle collision does not appear immediately, whether because your body is on a high-stress alert or because the injury took a little longer to show. Regardless, you should always go to the emergency room or your family doctor.
The smallest of impacts can create severe damage to your spinal cord, or result in a concussion that may lead to cognitive issues. Let the medical professionals determine whether you are injured or not.
Ask for guidance before you agree to any settlements.
You have rights in an accident, whether you were at fault or not. Often, the insurance companies involved will want to close your claim with as little expense to themselves as possible. If you are the injured party, this may mean that they offer you a settlement, after which they have no further responsibility for any of your bills.
Your attorney can let you know if this is a reasonable settlement offer, or if you may be entitled to other benefits or more compensation that the insurance company is not telling you about.
Even if you were at fault, an attorney can help you ensure that you are protected from excessive fees and lawsuits, and that evidence that may help support you is not destroyed or loss.
Contact expert attorneys like Dunnion.com for more information on how an attorney can help you after a car accident.
You Are Not Alone
You may feel overwhelmed, but if you have followed these six guidelines, you are on the right track to a successful resolution of your car accident claim. Your attorney can guide you the rest of the way and help answer any further questions you may have as they arise.
There have been many other car accidents, and it is likely that yours will be able to be handled just as well as the others were with the help of an experienced attorney and a calm mindset.