Most individuals will be involved in a car accident at least once in their lives. Over 2 million people are affected each year by a vehicle accident in the United States. While no one likes to imagine themselves getting into a car accident, it is important that one be prepared for the situation should it occur. Read on for specific instructions to follow in the event of a car accident.
What to Do Right After a Car Accident
1. Check Yourself for Injuries, Then Call 911
Immediately following an accident, check to see if you’re physically able. Then, check your passengers to see if they have injuries. Look around the inside and outside of your vehicle to assess the damage.
Next, call the police. While you may be tempted to skip calling 911 if both cars and drivers aren’t damaged, it is essential to call the police. This is the only way to ensure you are properly protected by a police report and with your insurance.
When on the phone with 911, share the following information with the dispatcher:
- Your Location and nearby landmarks
- Whether or not anyone was injured, trapped in the car, or thrown from the vehicle
- Share about any dangers like overturned cars or leaking fuel
2. Beware of What You Say
While you may have good intentions when speaking with other people at the scene of the crash, what you say can be used against you later on. Avoid admitting fault in every way possible. Regardless of whether or not you think you are to blame, you need to be completely neutral.
As medical treatment arrives to the scene, always accept treatment. Avoid making any jokes or excuses about your symptoms. Share everything you are feeling with the first responders so that your condition can be properly assessed. If you aren’t taken to the hospital at the scene, try to see a medical professional on the day of the accident or soon after.
Receiving treatment sooner rather than later will help to bolster your injury claim. In the event that you do file a claim after having waited to seek treatment, your insurance company will likely deny the claim.
3. Gather Your Evidence and Support Your Claim
After an accident, it is the law in most states for drivers to exchange insurance and ID information. As you gather the other driver’s information, be sure to clearly write down their name, address, email, and phone numbers. Additionally, write down the vehicle make, model, and license plate number.
When taking these notes, be sure to write down the age and appearance of occupants, any apparent injuries, as well as your impression of what their behavior is.
What to Do When Working with Your Insurance
4. Organize Your Information
While talking to your insurance company shouldn’t be a stressful time, if you don’t tell your side of the story properly, you’ll find yourself flustered on the phone. Prepare for this phone call by writing out your story.
Organize your information by compiling a copy of our police report, copies of medical records, and your notes from the scene of the accident. Prior to speaking with your insurance company, review what you will say so you can be as calm as possible on the phone.
5. Write Your Demands in a Letter
While you can speak to your insurance company over the phone, tell them what settlement you want in a written letter. A complete demand letter should have your documentation attached. This letter will help to back up any claim you make and will help you get the largest settlement possible.
6. Know When It’s Time to Contact an Attorney
It’s your insurance adjuster’s job to sound sympathetic. However, most insurance companies do everything in their power to avoid settling your claim for the full amount. Claimants that lack representation often offer lower settlements, knowing that the claimant will likely not fight back. If you believe you’ve been given a settlement that is far too low, it’s time to contact an attorney.
As you look for the right lawyer, be sure to find an attorney that doesn’t demand compensation up front. Justin Kimball from Preszler Law Firm explains that contingency fees exist to allow lawyers to work on a “pay only if you win” basis, ensuring the lawyer will fight tooth and nail to win the case. With a lawyer that is motivated to win, you are much more likely to get the full value for your claim.
It’s challenging to think straight after a car accident. However, the minutes, hours, and days after an accident are a crucial time that can be the difference between your insurance company giving you the full settlement or you being found at fault. Use this guide to help you take the proper steps after getting into a car accident to ensure you get the outcome you’re hoping for.