10 Steps to Take Following a Car Accident
If you are involved in a car accident, you are going to be shaken up. Even so, there are steps that you must take to ensure the safety of all concerned and to protect yourself against false claims. Unfortunately, some people will claim for more damage than occurred in a car accident, and some people will take advantage of the situation by making false personal injury claims. Here are the steps to take immediately following a car accident.
1. Stay Calm
Whoever was at fault in a car accident, your priority should be the safety of yourself, your passengers, and anyone else involved in the incident. Try to keep a cool head, and deal with the situation as calmly as you can. If you believe that the accident was not your fault, try not to get angry with the other driver. You will already have the motor vehicle accident to deal with, so you don’t want to add a road rage incident to your problems.
2. Check for Injuries
Immediately following the accident, you should check yourself and then your passengers for any sign of injury. Then you should find out if anyone else has been injured. If anyone has been hurt, then they should not be moved until the paramedics arrive. Someone injured in a car crash should not be moved unless leaving them where they are would put them in further danger.
3. Get to a Safe Place
If you are not injured, and it is safe to do so, you should get yourself and your passengers to the side of the road. If damage to your car is minor, and your vehicle is obstructing the road, you should drive your vehicle to the shoulder or the side of the road. If it is safe to do so, you might want to take photos of the crash site before you move any vehicles. However, gathering evidence must come second to safety. So, if your car is blocking a lane of traffic, it would be best to move the vehicle so that it doesn’t cause any further accidents.
4. Call 911
Unless the damage is minimal and you are sure that no one has been hurt, it is best to call the police after a car accident. In some states, you must notify the police about any motor vehicle accident. If the police attend the scene, they will document the accident and provide you with a police report, which your insurers may require to process your claim. If the police do not attend the scene, you can file your own accident report of the incident with the local police department.
5. Don’t Admit Responsibility
Even if you believe that you may have been at fault, it is best not to admit blame at the scene of a car accident. Immediately following an accident, you will be flustered, and you might admit fault when the responsibility lies with another party. If you think that you were to blame, then that’s only your opinion. So, stick to the facts, tell the police the truth, and avoid apportioning blame. It is advisable not to exchange small talk with the other driver either. A simple comment like, “I’m not hurt” or “no real damage done” might be used against you later.
6. Exchange Insurance Details
Following a motor accident, you should exchange contact and insurance details with the other driver or drivers. The information that should share includes your full name and contact information, and the name of your insurance company, and your policy number.
7. Document the Incident
Document as much as you can about the accident. Make a note of the make, models, license plate numbers, and colors of the other vehicles involved. Write down the location where the accident occurred. If the police attend the incident, note the names and the badge numbers of the officers attending the scene, and ask the attending police officers where you will be able to get a copy of the accident report.
8. Take Photos and Ask for Witnesses
Take photos of any damage to your car and the other car. If it is safe to do so, you should take pictures from several different angles of each of the vehicles involved in the accident. Your photos will be useful if your insurance company needs to fight a disputed claim on your behalf. If any third parties witnessed the accident, ask those people for their contact details as well.
9. Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if Necessary
In some states, you may need to notify the local department of motor vehicles that there has been an accident. Whether you need to report an accident may depend on the value of the damage to the cars. In some states, it is also a legal requirement to report all car accidents to the police, however minor. Check what you need to do in your state to make sure that you meet all the legal requirements.
10. Notify Your Insurers
You may want to call your insurers while you are still at the scene of a motor accident. Your insurer can then tell you what they will need from you when you file your claim. Whether you call them immediately or later, your insurers will talk you through the claim process and explain what will be required from you.
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, even the most experienced of drivers may feel flustered and disorientated. But, if you follow the above tips, you will have all the evidence you need to file your claim and protect yourself. The crucial thing, though, is always to put safety first immediately following a motor accident.