Driving is notoriously dangerous, as there are millions of car accidents in the United States every year. The severity of car accidents can range from minor fender benders to serious collisions that result in other drivers and passengers getting hurt.
People injured in car accidents often experience several difficulties, including having to take time off work, dealing with pain and trauma, and paying expensive medical bills. Fortunately, if you are not to blame for the accident, you can hire a lawyer to help you take legal action and claim compensation. Alternatively, if you may be liable for the accident, then you must work with an insurance company and lawyer to defend yourself against claims.
Car accidents are usually very traumatic situations with long-lasting consequences, therefore it is wise to be prepared and know what to do when one happens. The way a driver behaves after a car accident can have a strong effect on the result of a legal case. Read the following steps to understand what you should do directly after a car crash.
Check If Anyone Is Injured
The first and probably the most important step to take after a car crash is to remain at the scene of the accident. As pointed out by one expert legal team, the priority of drivers after a crash is the safety of everyone involved. In this situation, drivers should try to stay calm and check everyone is OK before calling for medical assistance and emergency services if necessary.
Remove Yourself and Your Vehicle From Danger
If the accident was minor with small injuries, then you should try to carefully move your car to the hard shoulder to ensure it doesn’t block traffic or cause a hazard. Your hazard lights should be turned on in addition to setting up emergency triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers of danger, so they can slow down. In more serious crashes or if someone is hurt, then vehicles should be left where they are.
Often people have trouble thinking logically after a car crash, so even if nobody is injured, you should be particularly careful when leaving your car, especially if you are on a busy street or highway with many other vehicles passing by.
Report The Accident To The Police
To help resolve claims fairly and quickly, someone must report the accident to the police. For minor collisions, police in many areas may not come to the scene and instead will encourage the use of online reporting.
Documenting a car accident is important, so if a police officer attends the scene of the car accident, you should take note of their badge number, name, and contact details. Once the officer has completed their accident report, you can request a copy. Alternatively, you can obtain a copy of the report from your local law enforcement office or insurance adjuster.
Ensure Important Information Is Collected
Without documentation in the form of notes, photos and, videos, it is difficult to prove liability in an insurance claim. Therefore, it is essential to record as much information as possible about a car crash, such as:
- Photos and/or videos of the accident scene, the damage done to vehicles, and personal injuries caused
- The address, driving license number, name, and phone number of those involved
- Vehicle information; color, license plate number, make, model, vehicle identification number, and year
The information a driver should never share after a car accident includes insurance coverage limits, their social security number, and other personal information.
Make A Record Of The Scene
Providing visual evidence of a car accident goes a long way to achieving a positive outcome in a legal case, and smartphones are the perfect tool to record the scene of an accident. Make good use of your smartphone to take photos, record videos, and make voice memos.
When it comes to taking photos of your car, start by taking a few photos of the whole car and then close-ups of damaged areas on both your car and the other person involved in the accident.
Other key pieces of information that should be recorded after a car accident include the date and time, photos of skid marks, street names, the direction each vehicle was traveling in, and the position of the car when the accident occurred.
Additional information that helps insurance adjusters recreate an accident are:
- Sketched diagrams of the accident scene
- Written notes or voice memos detailing the circumstances leading up to the crash
- Weather conditions
- Property damage
Get The Assistance Of A Tow Truck
If your car sustains substantial damage in an accident and is no longer road-worthy, then you will need to call a tow truck to help you get to a mechanic. Tow trucks can be difficult to find last minute, so it is a good idea to sign up for a membership at a motor club that offers roadside assistance amongst other benefits.
Before deciding on a motor club or tow truck company, it’s a safe bet to check their credentials, read their customer reviews and write down their contact information.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Once you have dealt with the initial consequences of an accident, drivers should call their insurance company. It is worth noting that failing to notify your insurance company of an accident may leave you liable for damages later on.
Knowing the fundamentals of safe driving can help you avoid expensive mistakes like car crashes and high insurance rates. Thinking back to the basics, like information you learned in your driving or permit test, can help you stay safe and focused while on the road.
Make An Insurance Claim
Making an insurance claim is becoming more convenient as many providers now process claims online. To deal with a claim correctly and promptly, insurance companies require drivers to submit all documents detailing a crash before assigning an adjuster to work on the claim.
Visit Your Doctor
Aside from organizing the documents needed to make an insurance claim, drivers who have been in an accident should also keep an eye on their health. Due to the high chance of trauma linked to car crashes, it is advisable to visit a doctor immediately after being in one, even if there are no apparent serious injuries.
Experiencing a car crash is a traumatic experience, even if it’s a minor accident. In addition to dealing with the immediate consequences, there are several things a driver should do after an accident to ensure an insurance claim is handled properly.