Each year about 2.35 million people get injured in car accidents. These range from small fender benders to serious multi-car wrecks that cause significant injuries.
Whatever the severity of car accident you experience, there are a few steps you need to take afterward. The more important thing is making sure everyone is safe and uninjured. While it is upsetting to see your car wrecked, it is only a possession; you can’t replace people.
Let’s walk through the steps you need to take following an accident.
The first thing you should do after an accident is to stop driving. Whether you are at fault or not, never leave the scene of a crash. This applies even if the accident is a minor one.
If you do decide to leave the scene, you can receive a ticket. You don’t want to add more stress to an already stressful situation by leaving the scene and having cops show up at your door.
Check for Injuries
The next most important thing is to check yourself and others for injuries. If you think anyone is injured, you need to call 911 immediately so they can receive medical treatment.
If someone is seriously injured, it is crucial that they not move. Moving them can cause even more damage and injury.
Secure the Scene and Get to Safety
This seems to be where most people go wrong after an accident. Move yourself and your vehicle to the side of the road. Leaving it in the lane or another hazardous location creates a risk of causing another accident.
Alert the Police
When you alert the police to your accident, an officer will come out and make a report. They will then write a ticket for the at-fault party and make a report of what happened leading up to the accident.
Be sure you only give facts and not your conjecture. You don’t want to speculate. Anything you say the officer will include in their report.
If the officer asks if you are injured, say you are not sure. Do not say a definitive no; this will work against you later on if you end up finding out you are injured.
Take pictures of the scene of the accident. Capture the weather and road conditions. Also, take photos of every car involved.
Be sure to capture the extent of the damage caused. This will help you move forward with insurance claims and can come in handy later on if you end up having to go to trial.
If you call the police, everyone’s information will be included in the police report. You won’t need to exchange information with the other parties directly.
However, if you choose not to call the police, you will want to exchange insurance information with the other party. This is how you file a claim with the other party’s insurance company.
Be sure to get the following information:
- Driver’s name
- Telephone number
- Insurance company
- Policy number
- Vehicle information
- Passenger names
- Contact information for all passengers
- Contact information for all witnesses
Arrange for Car Repair
If it is a minor accident, you can probably drive your car away from the crash after everything is said and done. You can then try to repair the dents and other damage yourself.
However, if the damage is more serious, you’ll want to read more here about having a professional perform the repairs for you.
Seek Medical Attention
Right after the accident, you may not feel pain due to adrenaline and shock. This is entirely normal and the reason we told you to avoid saying that you are not injured.
If you start to feel pain in the days after the accident, you may want to seek medical treatment. Do not wait on this. Many states have a time limit on how long you can wait to seek treatment.
In Florida, the limit is ten days. If you wait beyond that, you may forfeit your ability to seek recovery for your treatment costs.
Notify Your Insurance Company
As soon as you can, you need to notify your insurance company of the accident. If you are the one at fault, the sooner, the better. If the other party is at fault, you need to notify both your own and the at-fault party’s insurance company.
The sooner you do this, the sooner you can start the process for receiving compensation.
Many insurance companies make it easy to file a claim these days. Most companies have an app that allows you to file a claim. All you need to do is fill out some information and upload those pictures that you’ve already taken.
Create a File
Create a file where you keep all relevant documents relating to the accident. This will include the police report, and communication with the insurance companies, and medical records from any treatment you receive.
Having a file will help you stay organized and will come in handy should you need to seek legal representation.
Handle Your Car Accident
If you have experienced a car accident, you need to take these steps to ensure you stay safe and get the compensation you need to get back on the road driving again. Make sure you take detailed and accurate records of everything.
Focus on the facts and try not to let your emotions rule your decision making. Remember, the most important thing is that you are safe, your car can be fixed or replaced.
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