Most people, at some point in their lives, are involved in a car accident, whether it is as a driver or as a passenger. From minor fender-benders to major collisions with serious injuries, there are some basic protocols to follow after an accident.
— Always remain on the scene of the accident until you are cleared to leave by police or first responders.
— Make sure that any other drivers and passengers are okay, and summon help for those who need it. Don’t move anyone with an injured back or neck unless he or she is in imminent danger, e.g., the car is on fire, etc.
— Snap photos of the scene, including skid marks and the vehicles’ final positions.
— Take down the other drivers’ information, including license plate numbers.
— Don’t apologize for the accident or admit to any wrongdoing. Things are not always as they first appear, and statements and admissions made at the scene can cost you money later.
— Get witness contact information for future reference.
— Before you speak to your insurance agent, read your policy about exclusions and coverage details. Remember never to lie about the circumstances, as it can cause coverage to be denied.
— Keep detailed notes about all medical treatments and costs, and start an accident journal where you jot down any instances where the injuries you suffered in the crash kept you from enjoying your typical lifestyle. This can form the basis of a later claim for pain and suffering.
At some point, you may need to retain an attorney to assist you with your claim. Remember that insurance companies always lowball offers at first. If you aren’t happy with their offer, don’t accept it and tell them you will be getting legal representation in the matter.
Source: Findlaw, “After a Car Accident: First Steps,” accessed Jan. 01, 2016