Car accidents happen to all of us at one time or another. No matter how careful of a driver you are, you can’t account for everyone else on the road. Fender benders, crunches, and pile ups are so surprising and sudden, it’s hard for a person to remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself after a car accident. And when you are still shaking from the impact or recovering in the back of an ambulance, the last thing you’re thinking about is taking pictures of your crunched vehicle. But if you are able, here are some tips that will make the post-accident process less stressful. Read through these now just in case you are the next unfortunate person in an accident.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident: General Checklist
It can be difficult, but the most important thing to do after an accident is to remain calm. This will help you to complete all these necessary steps and make sure you exchange and collect all the important after collision information.
1. Call the local police and ask for an officer to come to the crash scene.
You won’t always need an officer in every situation. When accidents occur on private property, such as parking lots, police won’t be sent. Some cities and towns will only send an officer if there is an injury. Still, it’s better to see if a patrol officer will come to help figure out the situation.
2. Be as pleasant as possible, even if it’s difficult.
As much as you’d like to yell at the other party involved, it’s very important to diffuse any anger that may arise during these tense situations. First responders also report that they prefer to aid those who keep a level head and a civil tongue.
3. Do not discuss the specifics of the accident, and never ever admit fault at the scene.
Even if you believe that you may have been in the wrong, it’s important to let the police or your insurance company determine who exactly caused the accident. You may not be at fault.Think of it this way, you might have been unable to witness all the actions that had to occur for the accident to happen from your vantage point. A local witness or the physical evidence of your vehicles may be a better way to gauge who exactly was at fault for the accident.
4. Use your cell phone camera to your advantage.
One of the best things about carrying around a cell phone is the camera feature. You can use the camera to take a picture of the other person’s auto insurance card, their driver’s license, and license plates. Also, you can document the damage on both of your vehicles. Most importantly, take pictures of what the crash site looks like right after the accident. If you are able to, take pictures before either of your cars are moved out of the road.
5. Call your insurance agent after you’ve contacted the police.
Your agent will also go over some of these tasks to make your insurance claim go smoothly.
What to Do After a Car Accident With an Injury
When you are involved in car accident that includes an injury, either to yourself one of your passengers or someone in the other car, there are a few more steps you should take. It’s important to do all the previously discussed steps but you should also tend to the injuries first.
1. Call 911 to report the accident and the injuries.
Do not move the injured persons unless remaining in the vehicle would be considered dangerous. If someone is ejected from a vehicle on the side of the road, it is important to determine if they are conscious or not. But in case of a possible spinal injury, it’s best not to move a person before first responders arrive.
2. Determine if you yourself are injured.
This may seem obvious, but sometimes injuries caused by accidents do not manifest themselves until a few days after the accident. For instance, if you are rear-ended, you may notice that your neck is a little sore right after the accident. A few days later this may manifest as serious whiplash or neck and shoulder pain which will need tending from a medical professional. When in doubt, have any possible injuries examined.
3. Find a personal injury lawyer.
It may be smart to ask friends and family for personal injury lawyer recommendations before you ever even find yourself in an accident. This way you’ll know who to call in case you’re involved in an accident with injury. Encourage any of your injured passengers to also seek legal counsel.
4. Tell your insurance agent immediately if you or someone in your vehicle have been injured.
Insurance companies will help you to find medical care and seek payment for your injuries from the other person’s insurance company.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident
Let’s hope that you are very lucky and your accident didn’t involve injuries. Perhaps you were just involved in a very small fender-bender. In many cities and municipalities, the police will not send a officer to write a report if the damage isn’t over several hundred dollars. There are several steps for a minor car accident.
1. Exchange information.
Again, use your cell phone to snap a picture of the other parties insurance card and driver’s license. Then snap a couple photos of the damage to your vehicle and any damage on the other party’s vehicle.
2. Report the damage.
Call your insurance company to report the damage. You may still be able to report the incident with the local police department. Some cities will allow you to file an incident report on the city or Police website. If you feel that the damage to your vehicle may be greater than the police have determined, you may want to obtain a police report.
What to Do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault
After completing all the suggested steps, if you are still completely certain that you are not at fault for the accident, then all you need to do is tell the truth. It may be helpful to write down your account of the incident since you may have to recount the event several times. You may receive phone calls from both your insurance agent and the other party’s insurance company, especially if the other driver contests your side of the story. During both of these interviews, just be sure to remain calm and answer their questions honesty. This will help them to determine who is actually at fault.
What to Do After a Car Accident That Is Your Fault
While it is important to not admit fault at the scene of the accident, sometimes we know when we have caused damage to someone else’s property. If you believe that you are at fault for the car accident, it is important for you to discuss this frankly with your insurance agent. They will help you to review the police report and physical evidence to help you determine who is at fault. If you feel you are at fault, it may be a good idea to seek out legal counsel to help you through this accident claim.
While every car accident will be stressful, you may save yourself some grief if you take these steps. Document as much of the incident as you can using your cell phone. Your insurance agent will be the most knowledgeable person at this time, give them all the information about the accident that you can. Remember, the most important thing you can do following a car accident is to remain calm and cooperate with first responders.