Being involved in a car accident is an unforeseen circumstance that nobody really wants to be part of. However, no matter how careful you are on the road, there are accidents that are just bound to happen, either because of environmental road risks and hazards or because of the negligence of other drivers. If you have been involved in a road accident, below are the things you should do after the incident.
Stop and Preserve the Scene
One of the first things that you need to do in case you encounter a road accident is to stop and preserve the scene. Avoid the temptation of driving away from the accident, particularly if it is only a minor one. Rather, make sure to check if anyone involved in the accident requires immediate medical attention. In case you are the one seriously hurt, try your best not to move and just wait for the emergency personnel to arrive at the scene.
If your vehicle, as well as the other vehicles involved in the accident, is not causing any major traffic issue, it is best not to move them. However, in case your vehicle is causing a driving hazard, try to pull it to the side of the road. Keep in mind to try and identify the extent of the damage that the accident has caused.
Call the Police
Another one of the first things that you need to do after being involved in a car accident is to call the police promptly regardless of whether it is just a minor collision or a major car crash. This is because in some instances, the physical and medical damage you may have incurred because of the accident is not immediately apparent and your injuries may only transpire at a later time. The officers who will respond to the scene will fill out an accident report to document the incident.
In order to do so, they will take down basic information about all those who are involved in the accident. The police will also ensure your safety and call emergency services as necessary. They will promptly give tickets for violations due to negligence, as well as speak to witnesses and evaluate the situation to circumvent any questionable circumstances.
While you are waiting for the police officers to arrive, set up early warning devices around your vehicle as a precaution to other cars to slow down when nearing the accident scene. In case police officers can’t make it to the scene of the accident, it is best to head to the nearest police station to report the vehicular mishap. Make sure not to leave the scene until there is a proper police report that is filed because this report can help ensure your protection in case of any legal problems that should arise because of the accident. The reason behind this is that when you make a claim later on, either to your insurance or the insurance provider of the other party, a police report may be deemed necessary.
Exchange Information With the Others Involved
The police arriving at the scene will most likely take the information of all the parties involved in the accident. However, it can also be a good idea to get the name and the contact information of the other people in the accident yourself. Exchange not only contact numbers but also addresses as well as their insurance information.
Ask them kindly for their driver’s license and take note of their license plate number. Duly note the type, color, and model of their vehicle too, as well as the exact location of the accident. In case there are witnesses to the accident, it is best to get their details as well in case you need to get in touch with them in the future in the process of making a claim.
However, it is best to limit your conversation to get only these facts. Make sure that you do not immediately admit any faults or liabilities concerning the accident. Rather, divulge any other information only to the police or medical representatives. Give an accurate detail to the investigating officers of what happened to the best of your ability and honestly admit if you are not aware of any particular facts, rather than guessing or making speculations.
Additionally, when a medical respondent asks if you are injured, better answer that you are not sure, rather than instantly saying no. It can be that you don’t immediately feel any pain right after the accident, but your injuries may transpire a couple of days or even weeks after.
Taking pictures of the accident is also a good idea, as long as you are able to do so because this is a form of documenting the scene. Make sure to take photos of the vehicle damage, as well as any visible injuries that you may have. Try to take pictures of your vehicle from various angles to effectively show the damage that has been done to the cars involved in the accident. As much as possible, make sure that the license plates of the cars are visible in the photos too. To ensure that you don’t interfere with the ongoing police investigation of the scene, it is best to take photos while waiting for the police to arrive.
The photos that you obtain from the scene can support your insurance claim later on. Along with the photos, make sure to note down the names of the police officers who responded to the scene and obtain a copy of the report that they filed. As much as possible, keep all of the information you get organized and easily accessible.
Notify Your Insurance
Don’t wait too long to notify your insurance provider about the accident to start your claim. It is even better if you can get in touch with an insurance representative while you are in the scene of the accident. In this way, they will be able to tell you exactly what you need in processing your claim, as well as what you can expect in the process.
More often than not, insurance policies require immediate reporting regarding the details of what happened in the accident. This is another reason why you need to take down information about the other party’s name, address, contact information, as well as their insurance company name and policy number. As part of the checklist, it is also important to note down the vehicle description and registration information, as well as the date and time of the accident and the exact location where it happened.
Other details that may be of help when you notify your insurance provider includes the road you are on or the nearest street, the direction you are headed, as well as the direction that the other vehicles are traveling to. You can also make notes on the traveling conditions such as weather or road visibility. Rest assured that it is often the case that this information is already contained in the car accident form filled out by the police officers who responded to the scene.
For your insurance claim process to be as seamless as possible, it is best if you know the details of your insurance coverage because this can be the basis of who is liable to pay for the damages incurred in the accident. In case there is a dispute between you and the other drivers, then you may expect a call from the insurance providers of the other drivers as well. Nevertheless, a claims adjuster will most likely step in to assess the overall damage of your vehicle and come up with a good estimate of the cost for repairs. The insurance provider will likely cover the costs of the vehicle repairs depending on who is deemed at fault for the accident.
In case the other driver is at fault, their property damage liability coverage will pay for the costs of the repair of your vehicle damage. Their bodily injury liability coverage, on the other hand, can cover your medical bills. Their collision coverage would pay for the costs of the repair of their own vehicle while the medical payments coverage will likely pay for their own injuries. There are also other optional insurance policies that can help cover the cost of emergency roadside service, as well as rental car reimbursement.
Seek Medical Attention
Aside from the damage to your property, you can also be compensated for the medical bills that you incur as a result of your injuries from the accident. There are instances wherein you may feel perfectly fine right after the accident, only to be in pain a day or a couple of days after. Thus, it is a good idea to seek medical attention as soon as possible by heading to a local emergency room or by visiting your family physician.
Keep All Related Evidence
Make sure that all the documents you have gathered relating to the accident are well organized and easily accessible. Apart from the police report and the initial information you have gathered at the scene, secure the claim number as well as the details of the claim adjuster who is handling your case. Keep all the names and contact numbers of the key people in the accident together.
In addition to this, make sure to diligently keep receipts of the expenses you have incurred because of the accident. This includes not only your medical bills or the cost of your vehicle repair but the cost of a rental car or income loss as well.
Get Legal Help
Finally, get legal help as soon as you start your insurance claim process because, with the help of the experts in the legal field, you will be able to protect your rights and interests. As much as possible, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer because they will help ensure that the evidence supporting your case is well-preserved. They can also provide sound advice before you make any final statements to your insurance provider. Additionally, they can also make sure that you maximize the compensation that you get following the accident. Rest assured that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis wherein they only get paid after you are awarded your claim.
In choosing the legal professional who will be able to look out for your best interest, better evaluate their expertise. As much as possible, seek the services of an attorney who is seasoned in handling personal injury which not only includes vehicular accidents but slips and fall injuries and the like. Their well-rounded experience in personal injury can certainly help you in the long run. Also, look into the firm size that the attorney you are considering is associated with. Bigger firms tend to have more resources to keep your case going, even if they only get paid after you are compensated. However, lawyers from a smaller firm will likely take on your case personally rather than delegating them to paralegals with less education and experience compared to a seasoned attorney.
Perform intensive online research to find the attorney that is perfect for your case. More often than not, you will also be able to find a legal expert near you through online channels. During your research, look at the number of years that they have been in the field, as well as the reputation that they have built-in practice. It will also be a good idea to explore the cases they have tackled, as well as their percentage of success.
Right after being involved in a car accident, make sure to stop and inspect the scene. Call the police and while waiting for the respondents, exchange details with the other parties involved. Take pictures of the scene if you can and obtain the information of witnesses too. Immediately get in touch with your insurance provider and seek medical attention. Make sure to keep all files related to the accident and get in touch with a legal professional to ensure that you will be duly compensated.