What to do if you have been involved in a car accident? What you do immediately after a car accident can play an important role in the outcome of your car accident case. Read the contents of the section careful. It will assist you should you be involved in a car accident.
Do not flee from the accident site. Remain at the accident site unless you believe that staying at the site is dangerous, i.e. the area is notorious for crime. In such cases, you should drive to the nearest police station.
The first thing you need to do is call 911. If you are able to make the call, make it. Don’t depend on others to make that all important call. If you are okay, check on the others if they need any assistance. If you have been injured but you can move on your own, move to the side of the road or to a safer place. If you cannot move, wait for assistance. Wait for the paramedics to arrive and administer first aid. Once you have received the necessary first aid, wait for the police to arrive at the scene.
While waiting for the police to arrive on the scene, exchange registration and insurance details with other drivers. Never blame others. Be polite and refrain from getting into an argument.
Observe the Scene
Make a mental note of the accident scene. The color and make of the vehicles involved, the road conditions, the position of the vehicles and just about anything that you can notice. If you have a pen and paper with you, note it down. Memory tends to fade but written notes remain forever. If you have a camera with you, take photographs of the accident site.
Look around for witnesses. Ask them what they saw and whether it would be okay to contact them in the future to talk about the accident. If they consent, get their contact details.
Once the police arrive on the scene, wait for them to record your statement. Let the officer do their work. When it is your time to provide your statement, they will call you. Don’t jump to them and say that your statement should be recorded first. Do not blame others. Just give your version of events. Don’t say “He is at fault” or “He did not apply his brakes in time”. Once the police record your statement, ask them when you can get a copy of the police report. Generally you can collect the statement from the police station. Once the police complete the formalities, ask them if it is okay to leave. Don’t leave without the police letting you know that it is okay for you to leave.
Once you reach home, call your insurance company immediately and inform them about the accident. Most insurance companies provide a 24 hour toll free helpline number that you can call to report an accident. Your insurance policy may have a clause that requires you to notify the insurance company of any accident within a specific period of time. If you do not inform your insurance company within this specific period of time, you will loose your right to make the claim. Do not hide anything from the insurance company. Withholding information or providing false information will result in the denial of your claim.
Track your expenses
Keep a track of the medical and other expenses you may have incurred on account of the accident. You will have to provide your insurance company with proof of the expenses. Maintain all receipts and payment proof.
In case you have suffered property damage in the accident, ask your insurance company for a valuation. You can also conduct a valuation on your own if you believe the insurance company has undervalued the damages.
Hire an attorney
Hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Let the attorney negotiate with the insurance company. Car accident attorneys have experience dealing with insurance companies and are aware of the tricks played by insurance companies to settle claims for less or completely deny the claim. Remember your insurance company is not your friend. Their goal is to maximize their profits, not paying you compensation for your injuries. Do not speak to anyone from the insurance company without first talking to an experienced attorney.
Reject early settlement offers
If you receive a settlement offer immediately, be vary of the offer. Unless you believe the offer is just and fair, you should reject it. The goal of insurance companies is to settle your claim for the least possible amount if they cannot deny it. Often the offer they make will be less than what you are actually entitled to under your policy.