Things You Should Do Immediately After a Car Accident
Car accidents are one of the most common tragedies you can experience. In fact, on average, there are about six million car accidents in the U.S. every year. Every day, more than 90 people die in car accidents. There's no question of how devastating and even life-threatening accidents can be, but they don't always end in injury or death. Sometimes you might come out unscathed, but cause harm to someone else or seriously damage their property. When this happens, try not to panic. There are several things you can do to keep things under control.
Stay on the Scene
You shouldn't drive away from the scene of the accident, even if it's a minor one. Doing so is considered a hit and run. You could face charges if you decide to flee the scene. Instead of taking off, get out of the car and see if anyone is injured. There's a chance that they may need urgent medical care. If this is the case, call 911 immediately for an ambulance. Even if no one was hurt, it still may be a good idea to call 911. This way, you'll be able to provide an official report to your insurance company so that you can file a claim.
Protect the Scene
Try to keep yourself safe and prevent further accidents by moving your car to the shoulder or off the main road. This will ensure that you don't get hit by approaching vehicles. If your car isn't operational and can't be moved, try turning on your hazard lights. This signals to other drivers that you can't move your car and they should go around. If your lights don't work, use a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your disabled car or by the side of the road.
Limit Interaction With the Other Party
Provide your name and insurance information to the other driver(s) involved in the accident. But after sharing these details, it's often best to limit your conversation about the accident with the other party, as you might admit guilt or blame the other person.
While you don't want to share too much with the other driver, you should get their information as well. The details you'll want to obtain include:
- Name and insurance information
- Phone number
- Photos of damage
- Police report number
- Their account of the incident
Talk to the Police
Once you've gathered this information, share it with the police when they arrive. Be sure to tell them exactly what happened. Let the officer know if you're unsure of certain facts, but make sure not to lie, speculate or misstate any facts. If an officer asks if you're injured, say that you're not sure, rather than no.
Many times, people involved in a car accident don't notice pain or injury until hours after the incident. Also, make sure the other party's statement is accurate and corroborates yours. This will prevent any discrepancies in the report and can help the insurance company's investigation as well as expedite your claim.
If there's visible damage to the vehicles, make sure you take pictures to document this. As most people have access to mobile phones, you'll likely be able to use yours right on the scene. Your cellphone is a readily available resource. You can use it to send photos to an app or email if your insurance company allows it. You may also need to hire professional help such as SeriousAccidents.com if you end up going to court.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If the damage to the other vehicle is extensive and quite noticeable, you'll likely have to pay for those damages. Luckily, if you have car insurance, you won't have to come up with all of the money upfront. You'll likely just have to pay a deductible. Call your agent or insurance company.
If you can get in contact with them while on the scene, this is even better, so that you can get the process started as soon as possible. Getting into an accident is a scary experience, especially if you're hurt. Be sure to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer for help.