Car accidents can happen in an instant, potentially causing serious injuries and leaving your vehicle in an un-drivable condition. While your insurance is designed to protect you against any financial consequences that could break your budget, you could still end up owing money for medical bills or car repairs if you’re not careful. Planning for the after effects of an accident before it happens may seem pessimistic but it’s the smartest way to protect yourself financially. Here’s a look at what steps you can follow if you are involved in a car accident.
Stay at the scene
Never leave an accident until it is ok to do so. If you leave the scene of an accident where someone has sustained serious injuries or was killed, you could be subject to criminal charges.
Check for Injuries
Double check yourself and any passengers you might be riding with to make sure no one is hurt. Even the slightest fender bender can produce injuries that might not be noticeable at first. Call an ambulance right away if someone is unconscious or has neck or back pain. Don’t move anyone unless they are in immediate danger.
Call the Police
If there is serious damage to property or someone sustained physical injuries or if there was a death, you need to call the police. In some instances someone might even begin acting confrontational. In these situations, keep your distance and call the police–leave if necessary. Once the police arrive, a report needs to be filed out at the scene. It’s also useful to obtain the name and badge numbers of the responding officers.
Even if the other driver involved tells you they don’t want to give you their information because they don’t want to get their insurance company involved, you should still make a strong point to get relevant information. Get the names, numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate number, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are witnesses or passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses. In talking to people at the scene, be polite and cooperative. However, you should never apologize for anything that happened. You may inadvertently be admitting to legal liability for what happened. Who may be at fault may not be immediately clear after an accident.
Inform your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance company quickly. Be as honest and descriptive as possible about the incident and any injuries you may have sustained. If your insurance company finds out you’ve lied to them, you could get into serious trouble. This could also lead to possible denial of coverage for the accident.
Record your medical treatment
Write down any doctors, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you seek treatment from as well as any medical provider that referred you to other caregivers. Request copies of all medical reports and bills as these help you prove your medical expenses later. Record how the accident has impacted your daily life and list any routine activities that you are unable to participate in as a result of the accident.
Take Pictures and get a Property Damage Valuation
Take pictures of damage to your vehicle immediately following the accident. This will help the insurance adjuster determine how much you should get reimbursed for. Before & after pictures can offer a great “compare and contrast” to show the degree of damage sustained in the accident.
Watch out for early settlement offers
Some insurance companies may want to settle early, but be careful of these offers. Make certain that all physical injuries have been treated as some might not show up until days, weeks, or months later. Don’t settle a claim until you’re positive that you’ll be reimbursed for all your injuries, and seek the advice of an attorney before signing any settlement documents.
If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you should call our office and speak with an attorney. At Premier Law Group your case is important to us and we will help you get the most compensation for your damages.