What To Do If You are in an Auto Accident
Car accidents are a dangerous and scary experience that can damage vehicles, harm drivers, and even result in fatal injury. Knowing what to do in the event of a car accident can make this scary incident more manageable and prevent future legal or health related issues.
Stop and Call 911
When involved in an auto accident, stop the vehicle and stay at the scene of the accident. If the vehicles involved are able, move them out of the way of traffic or danger to a safe location near the scene of the accident. Check with any passengers in your vehicle and the people in any other involved vehicles to gauge the severity of their injuries. Take a moment to evaluate the state of your own possible injuries. Call 911 and report the incident to get assistance from a police officer, and request medical assistance if necessary. Most car insurance companies require an incident report from law enforcement to file a claim for an auto accident. If anyone involved is unconscious or is experiencing head or neck pain do not move them and wait for emergency medical assistance unless remaining where they are would lead to further injury. Do not admit fault or accuse anyone of fault, wait until the police officers arrive to discuss the accident itself.
After checking on the injury status of all people involved and calling 911, begin to document the incident yourself. Photographic and video documentation can help with determining fault, filing with insurance, and provide evidence of personal and vehicle related damage. Document the state of the involved vehicles, your injuries, and any other relevant details to the scene of the accident. If personal injury prevents you from appropriately documenting the incident, ask a less injured passenger or a witness to document the incident for you. Make sure to document the make and model of all involved vehicles, names and insurance information of drivers, license plate numbers, and the names and badge numbers of any police officers you speak to. If any witnesses have stopped, document that as well and ask for their names and contact information. Ask the officers at the scene for a copy of their incident report for your records. If at all possible, e-mail all documentation to yourself to have a backup and a timestamp associated with it.
Contact your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company and inform them of the incident after speaking with the police. The sooner you report the incident to your insurance, the better. Your insurance may have a policy that covers medical costs as a result of an incident. Make sure you have the insurance information of all vehicles involved. Take note of the time you called, who you spoke to, and what was discussed and add it in with your incident documentation.
Protect Yourself in an Accident
While litigation may not be necessary, it is a good idea to discuss the accident with a lawyer as soon as possible to prepare for any potential issues that may arise. An attorney can guide you to ensure that you are fully compensated for damages and that costs relating to your injuries are taken care of appropriately. Consulting an attorney can protect you in many ways from the long term personal and financial consequences of a vehicle accident. Additionally, have yourself checked out by a physician as soon as possible if you even suspect potential personal injury. It is common for injuries from an accident to take a day or more to be painful or noticeable. The sooner you are medically evaluated, the more likely it is that you will recover well. Also, do not allow anyone to photograph or document your driver’s license and do not give your contact information to other involved people. Allow your insurance company, and potentially your attorney, to handle the incident and the aftermath to protect yourself from lawsuits and further incidents. Remember to take deep breaths, stay calm, and keep yourself and others as safe as you can.