A sudden car accident can be a very stressful and traumatic situation, but it’s important that you stay calm and keep a clear head. This is why licensed drivers are required to have auto insurance to financially protect themselves and others in case of accidents.
The steps to take after a car accident are pretty straight forward but can be a bit arduous. That’s where we come in. We’re here to simplify the process for you and get you the help you need.
1. Safety first
If you are not seriously injured, move your car to a safe spot out of the way of traffic. Turn off your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
2. Get help
If anyone is injured, immediately call 911 to get an ambulance and police to the location. Call the police even if the accident is minor so you will have an official report to give to your insurance company. The police report is important to the claim process to determine who is at fault.
3. Warning: Never admit fault!
Always cooperate but never admit fault even if you think it was your fault. Also, avoid accusing other drivers even if you believe they are at fault. Let the police officer objectively document the scene of the accident.
4. Things to avoid saying
Don’t say anything like:
“I’m not injured”
“I’m all right”
Because it’s possible that you may be injured and not be aware of it.
If you are asked, simply say:
“I don’t believe I’m in need of medical treatment at this time.”
5. Gather information
Here is the information you want to collect:
Names and contact information of the other drivers and passengers.
Other drivers insurance company name and policy number. If you have a smartphone on hand, take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card.
If it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the vehicles involved, any damage, license plate numbers and the scene of the accident.
The address of the scene of the accident.
Important! You only need to provide your name and insurance information to the other drivers involved.
6. File an insurance claim
You can file a claim immediately, but the claim process depends on which driver was at fault and the type of insurance coverage.
7. When do you need a lawyer?
It’s never too soon to contact a car accident lawyer after an accident. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer is imperative if any of the following situations apply to you:
The car accident caused a significant injury.
It’s not clear who is at fault.
The police or accident report does not accurately represent what happened.
The accident involved other pedestrians, motorists, or cyclists.
There are concerns about your insurance status, liability limits, or lack of insurance.
Your insurance company is being difficult or attempts to connects you with their attorney.
The accident occurred in a protected area such as a school zone or construction zone.
Small accidents might not require the help of an attorney. In cases such as “fender benders” for example, you may be able to settle the case directly with the insurance company.
You may not need the assistance of a lawyer if the following situations apply to you:
Neither you nor your passengers suffered any serious injuries and didn’t need medical attention.
Your accident has caused no damage to your vehicle, or the damage can be covered with the money the insurance company awards you.
Neither you or your passengers needed to take time off from work or had to significantly change your lifestyle or activities after the accident.
8. When to seek medical attention
The majority of insurance companies consider under 72 hours to be acceptable. If you wait till after 72 hours to seek medical attention, you run the risk of a severe reduction in the financial compensation you are eligible to receive from insurance.