7 Important Steps to Take Immediately Following a Car Accident
Did you know an average of 6 million car accidents occur annually in the United States? A car accident can happen at any time and change your life in an instant.
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is never an easy task, but if you know the steps to take beforehand, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress, time, and money.
Keep reading to learn about seven tips you need to take right away after a car accident so you’ll be prepared no matter what!
1. Check for Injuries
One of the first steps following a car accident is checking yourself and others for injuries. If injuries are serious or affecting your ability to move normally, don’t hesitate to call 911. It’s important not to minimize how you’re feeling at the scene just so you can check the state of your vehicle.
If you don’t need medical assistance right away, make sure you get a medical evaluation as soon as possible after the car crash. You often don’t feel symptoms right away from injuries like whiplash and muscle strains due to the adrenaline you’re feeling from the accident.
2. Exchange Information With the Other Driver
After you check for injuries, your next step is to exchange information with the other driver. When you’re stressed, it’s easy to forget all the information you need to gather at the scene. So make sure you get specific information that includes:
- Full name and phone number
- Name of their insurance company and policy number
- License plate number and driver’s license number
- Color and model of their vehicle
- The exact location of the accident
While you’re exchanging this information, you’ll need to avoid discussing who is at fault and stick to the facts. The general recommendation is that you don’t admit guilt and leave it to the insurance companies to complete an investigation to decide who is at fault.
3. Document the Accident Events
To protect yourself after you’re involved in a vehicle accident, you’ll want to take steps to document the events at the scene.
You’ll first need to ensure you get the names and badge numbers of all the police officers that respond to the accident. You will need your own copy of the accident report, so make sure to ask the officers present when and where you can obtain a copy of the report.
Next, document the accident by taking pictures of the vehicles involved at different angles, so you get a good idea of the total damage done to both cars. You can share these pictures with your insurance company to help support your claim.
Finally, you’ll want to write down the names of all other parties involved, such as passengers in the other car and any witnesses that saw the accident occur.
4. Determine if You Need to Make an Insurance Claim
Sometimes you won’t need to file a claim if there isn’t any damage to the other person’s car and no significant damage to your own car. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible for your car insurance and only have $500 worth of damage to your car, it doesn’t make sense to file a claim and potentially raise your premiums.
There are certain cases where you’ll need to involve your insurance company to protect yourself, which include:
- If there are any types of injuries
- If you’re at fault
- If it’s unclear which party is at fault
Keep in mind that police officers don’t come to the scene of every accident, so if there is any question in your mind about the accident or what the other person might do in the future, it’s best to involve your insurance company.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company Immediately
If you need to involve your insurance company, it’s essential to notify them immediately after the accident. You can call your insurance company or go online to make a report. If your car is badly damaged, you’ll be able to arrange to have it taken directly to a body shop for repair.
Remember that the other person involved in the accident will have your insurance information. If they contact your insurance company before you do, it could negatively affect your accident claim.
6. Understand the Repair Process
Once you file your claim and an insurance adjuster evaluates the damage to your car, you’ll need to resolve your claim as quickly as possible.
It’s vital that you understand precisely what this process involves and what your policy covers. Some insurance companies give you a list of repair shops to take your car to. Other insurance companies will have you choose a repair shop on your own and will then work directly with the shop on the repair details.
You’ll also need to check your policy for rental car coverage while your vehicle is being repaired. Some policies pay a daily car rental rate up front, while others will reimburse you for the costs. Either way, you’ll need to do your research and ask questions, so you know exactly what to expect.
7. Talk to an Auto Accident Attorney
If you have injuries following your car accident, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney for car accident advice. Even if your injuries don’t seem significant right away, it’s possible to have long-term complications from whiplash or back injuries. It’s also possible to have injuries that don’t reveal themselves immediately.
It’s easy to think contacting an attorney isn’t necessary if the other driver admits fault. However, it’s possible they could change their mind and claim later that the accident was your fault.
There can even be insurance issues that affect your claim, so it’s a smart decision all around to contact a car accident lawyer. If you need to talk to a lawyer today, an excellent place to book a free consultation is at Santiago Accident Lawyers.
Car Accident Preparation
You can never be too prepared for a car accident, so it’s a good idea to make a list of these steps to keep in the car with you at all times. And remember, if an accident does happen, stay calm and take things one step at a time.
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