10 Things to Do Following an Auto Accident
Every year there are millions of car accidents in the United States. While the majority of these accidents result in property damage only, such as damage only to the vehicles involved, sometimes the accident causes injury to the drivers and passengers in the vehicles. In fact, approximately one third of the reported accidents in the US each year include injured persons. Of those, one in five have resulted in fatal injuries.
With these facts in mind, it is important that all motorists understand the best action to take at the scene of the accident, and soon after, to make sure that your rights and interests remain protected. Listed below are the most important things to do if you find yourself in a car accident.1. Do NOT leave the scene of the accident!
If you are in an accident, never leave the scene. Doing so will likely lead to misdemeanor or felony charges for a “hit-and run.” If the accident has blocked traffic and you can move the vehicle out of the way, it is okay to do so.2. Secure the Scene.
You’ll want to do anything you can to preclude further accidents. If other drivers are not made aware of your accident they may not have time to take action to avoid your crash scene resulting in another collision. The best way to do this is to keep an “emergency kit” in your vehicle at all times. It should include some type of lights or highly visible traffic cones that you can place around the scene to make it more visible to oncoming traffic. Items like roadside flares, traffic cones with reflective tape, a large flashlight or strobe etc. are good things to have with you in the event you need to secure an accident scene.3. Call 9-1-1!
Even if it appears that no one has been injured, you’ll need the police on hand to file reports and make sure that traffic doesn’t further interfere with the accident scene. Most insurance companies require a police report included when you file a claim, even if the claim is only for property damage.4. When talking to the police, make an accurate report.
The first rule when talking to the police is to only make accurate, factual statements. Never speculate, estimate, guess or misstate anything. If you’re not sure, tell the officer that you are not sure. Especially when asked about possible injuries. In many cases, signs of an injury from an accident don’t become apparent until later and you don’t want the initial police report to suggest there are no injuries.5. Take Photographs!
Taking pictures at the scene of the accident of all visible damage to the vehicles involved, and of any visible injuries to the persons involved is a very important step you can take to make sure you have documented proof of what may need to be included when adding up damages. Most people have a cell phone with a camera that they keep with them. If you don’t, you may want to consider keeping an inexpensive digital camera or a disposable camera in your emergency kit.6. Exchange insurance information with all drivers involved.
If the police are at the scene, they will usually record all involved driver’s license and insurance information. If for some reason the police are not available, you’ll need to make sure to do this yourself.7. Notify your Insurance Company.
Most insurance policies mandate immediate reporting of any accident that you will be filing a claim for. Do this as soon as possible, and cooperate fully with any instructions they may have for you. Also, if your auto insurance includes medical coverage for the occupants of your vehicle, usually called “medpay,” be sure to report any injuries at this time as well. Medpay coverage is billed as primary coverage for accident related injuries. Once the medical bills reach your medpay coverage limit, your private health insurance will then be used for the remainder of the coverage.8. See a Doctor.
In many cases, persons with injuries that are a result of a car accident don’t begin noticing pain and other symptoms of the injury until up to 2 days after the accident. Because of this it is important to make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as you can following an accident to be sure you are in good health. Obviously, if there are visible or serious injuries that are noticeable at the time of the accident seek emergency medical attention right away.9. Keep your own records.
Keep all documentation related to the accident together in a safe place like a file. Be sure to include claim numbers, the name of the claim’s adjuster who is handling your claim, Contact information for all people involved in the accident, photos, and receipts for any expenses incurred due to the accident such as a rental car, towing, etc.10. Consult an attorney.
If you are injured in a car accident it is very important to contact an attorney. Your attorney will make sure your rights are protected, and can give you advice on how to make sure no evidence is lost or destroyed, and things you should and shouldn’t say to your insurance company when filing a claim.
At CarabinShaw, our Personal Injury lawyers work around the clock to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us anytime day or night, for a free consultation at 1.800.862.1260.