10 Things To Do After a Car Accident
Whether it is a fender bender in a parking lot or a significant collision mid-intersection, car accidents are traumatic, and it can be difficult to know what to do next. Here are some suggestions of steps you can take after a car accident to protect yourself and your interests.
1. Get Safe
No matter how minor the accident, always stop. Never drive away from the scene. If you are not significantly injured in the vehicle collision, it is important that you and the other driver pull off to the side of the road to a safe location.
2. Get Help
If you are injured in the accident, and think you may need to go the hospital, call 911 or have someone do so on your behalf. Even if you are not significantly injured, it is a good idea to call the California Highway Patrol or Police Department to the report the accident. When the police arrive at the scene, they will ask you questions about the accident so that they can make a report. Make sure you tell the officer exactly what happened to the best of your ability. Do not guess or speculate about what the other driver was doing if you do not know for sure. If you are asked if you are injured, and you are not sure, tell the officer that you are not sure. At times, pain and other injuries do not start to materialize until hours after the accident. Make sure the officer provides you with a report number so that you can obtain a copy of the report.
3. Gather and Exchange Information
Assuming you are not significantly injured, once you are safely to the side of the road, exchange contact information with the other driver including your name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, and license plate number. You should note the make and model of the other vehicle involved. You must also exchange insurance information, including the name of the other driver’s insurance company and the policy number. If there are any witnesses to the accident, make sure you talk to them and get their name and phone number so that you can contact them at a later date if necessary.
4. Take Photographs of the Scene
A picture is worth a thousand words, and can be incredibly helpful in pursuing a claim with the insurance company. Take pictures of the roadway, the location of the collision, damage to your vehicle, skid marks, broken glass, or any other evidence of the collision.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company
Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible after the incident. If you are unsure of what your policy covers, ask for a copy of the declarations page of your policy so that you are aware of the coverage afforded to you.
6. Get Medical Treatment
If you have any pain after the accident, even if you did not notice it immediately after the collision, it is important that you go to the doctor to receive treatment. Tell the doctor all of the symptoms that you are experiencing so that they can properly diagnose you and give you the medical attention you need. If you have any physical injuries (such as cuts or bruises), take photographs of your injuries.
7. Avoid the Other Driver’s Insurance Adjuster
The other driver’s insurance adjuster is likely to call you and ask for a statement regarding the accident, or whether you will sign certain authorizations so that they can obtain medical records to analyze your injuries. Do not sign any documents or give a statement. The insurance adjuster will undoubtedly attempt to skew the information you provide so that they can deny some or all of your claim. If you are thinking of hiring an attorney (see No. 10), simply tell the adjuster that your attorney will be contacting them.
8. Obtain a Car Repair Estimate
Obtain an estimate of the repairs that need to be done to your vehicle as a result of the accident. If you are not happy with a particular estimate, you should seek quotes from other body shops.
9. Document it All & Keep it Organized
Memories fade quickly. It is important to take notes about what you remember of the accident and how it happened. Draw a sketch or diagram the collision to ensure you have a full picture of the accident. You should keep all of your paperwork regarding the accident in one place—a binder or a folder. Examples of documents to keep in this folder include photographs, police reports, receipts for expenses that you’ve incurred as a result of the incident, medical records, and the contact information for the other driver. Having everything organized will make pursuing a claim with the insurance company a lot easier.
10. Contact an Attorney