No one leaves home in the morning expecting to be in a horrible automobile accident. But the truth of the matter is that it is best to be prepared for the unexpected, because in the moment, a car accident is not only scary and painful, it is also overwhelming. Knowing before-hand the proper steps to take if you are in an accident can have a positive effect over your case afterwards. While this blog discusses actions to take should you be in an accident, our next blog will discuss those things you should definitely not do in the event of an accident.
- Stay calm. This is the best advice I can give. Hopefully, you and any others in your vehicle, and the other vehicle involved for that matter, have not sustained any injuries. You will not be able to think clearly and proceed through the following steps if you do not stay calm. Keep a cool head and do not lose your temper, then proceed through move through the following steps.
- Call 911. After a collision, you should immediately call local law enforcement so that they can come out to the scene, investigate, and document the details of the crash. Officers can also help to make sure that you and anyone else involved receive proper medical care. The officer will complete an accident report, which is crucial moving forward with the insurance claim in your case.
- Gather information and evidence. Once the collision has happened, you may or may not have a potential case. While officers will help to gather necessary information, it is always important to gather information on your own, if possible. Be sure to get the names of anyone who was involved in the wreck, as well as their contact information and insurance information. If they are not wanting to provide their information, at the very least, be sure to get the make and model of their vehicle, as well as their tag number. Be sure to also write down any information that you can use to identify them later. Take note of any cameras in the area that may have recorded the collision and get the names of any witnesses who may have seen the wreck. Take lots of pictures. Make sure that you or someone you know takes as many pictures of the scene from as many angles as possible. My recommendation would be to focus first on both vehicles, showing the damage, followed by a full view of the scene as well as the surrounding area, and then take pictures of any apparent injuries. If possible, press the record button on your phone as you are documenting everything. If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth ten times as much, especially if the other party admits fault. Remember that the name of the game is to get as much information as possible.
- Only talk about the facts. Never admit fault. Anything that you say following a collision can, and likely will, be documented, if not by you, then by local law enforcement and the other party. As much as you may want to apologize, saying that you are sorry and/or admitting fault can be used against you. While you think an accident was your fault, it may not actually be. When asked, only disclose the facts of the collision, and nothing more.
- Call your insurance company. As soon as you are able, contact your insurance provider to let them know that you were in a car wreck. Timing is always crucial, because the insurance company will look for any reason to deny your claim. When you talk to an insurance rep, know they will likely be recording your call. Your best bet will be to only let them know the most very basic facts of the collision and let them know that your lawyer will be in touch. Which leads us to our last tip…
- Contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in car wrecks. I do not recommend contacting or going up against any insurance company (even your own) by yourself. A good lawyer will be able to explain the claims process to you, and make sure that your interests are protected. Remember that while your insurance company may appear to be on your side, their goal is to make money and save money, which means that while you may be entitled to compensation, their job is to spend the least amount of money possible. A good personal injury lawyer, who specializes in car wrecks will maximize your case and ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries, and (more importantly), that you are not taken advantage of by these insurance companies.