How would you respond if you were in a car accident on your way home from work this week? Do you know what action steps you should take? Knowing the steps you should take ahead of time can protect you from making expensive mistakes in the shock and confusion of the moment at the accident scene.
At the Scene of the Accident
- If at all possible, move the vehicle(s) to the side of the road.
- Turn on your hazard lights to alert approaching vehicles.
- Call 911 to report the accident to law enforcement if: 1) anyone is killed, 2) anyone is injured, 3) there is property damage greater than $500.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved.
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle license number
- Contact information (home addresses, telephone number, and email address)
- Vehicle insurance
- If law enforcement was summoned, wait for their arrival, and cooperate fully with them in creating an accident report form. Do not, however, admit fault for the accident, even if you believe yourself to be at fault.
- Take pictures documenting the conditions at the time of the accident as well as the damage to the vehicle.
- Ask the law enforcement officer for how to obtain a copy of the accident report as well as how to reclaim your vehicle, if it was towed.
- Do NOT
- Talk to the other driver’s insurance company or give them any information.
- Admit fault to any party involved.
- Discuss personal information with anyone other than the police officer, your insurance company, or your personal attorney.
- Leave the scene of the accident early.
After the Accident
Once you’re away from the accident scene and trying to figure out a course of action, here are some things to keep in mind (especially when it comes to interacting with insurance companies).
- If you did not have law enforcement at the scene, fill out a Personal Report of Accident as soon as possible. This will provide documentation of all relevant accident details in case of later need. This report can strengthen your case in court, should dispute arise in the future.
- If you have sustained any injuries, don’t hesitate to get professional care sooner rather than later. Waiting to get care may allow insurance companies to minimize your damages.
- Although it maybe be tempting to avoid filing a claim with your own insurance in order to avoid higher premiums, not filing immediately limits your chances of winning a lawsuit (should one arise) or receiving the maximum medical and repair coverage you may need.
If you have any questions at all, please take advantage of our free consultation and set up an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys! We are here to make sure you get the care and coverage you deserve.