Did you know over 6 million auto accidents occur in the United States every year? As a result, over 40,000 people lose their lives and 2.5 million sustain personal injuries.
When you hit the road, getting into an accident is the last thing on your mind. But as the numbers clearly show, the risk is always there.
If your worst fears have come to pass and you have been involved in an accident, what you do next could shape your life thereafter. It’s for this reason we’re sharing the steps you need to take after a vehicle accident.
After an accident, you have a duty to stop.
You might be tempted to drive on if no one involved is hurt and the vehicle is in good condition, but if you do so, you’ll be in violation of the law. The vast majority of states require drivers involved in an accident to stop, otherwise, you could face hit and run charges.
What about moving your car off the road?
Well, laws addressing this issue vary from state to state, but it really depends on the specific situation. If there’s no collision with another vehicle and no one is hurt – perhaps you hit a pothole and lost control of your vehicle – you can move it to prevent a traffic build up.
Don’t forget to put up signs alerting other road users of the accident. If it’s at night, put on your car’s hazards or use a flashlight to warn other drivers.
2. Check for Injuries
After stopping, the next thing is to check if anyone involved in the accident is injured. If there are obvious signs of injury, don’t hesitate to perform first aid and seek emergency medical services.
Although some people avoid seeking medical help because they think paramedics will interfere with the scene of the accident and possibly alter the facts, it’s essential to bear in mind saving lives comes first.
3. Call the Police
In the event of a bad accident, police will always find their way to the scene, even if no one personally involved makes the call.
When it’s a minor accident with no injuries, though, you might feel it’s not necessary to call the police. It’s not uncommon for parties involved in an accident to sort out things without involving the police.
Well, as a general rule of thumb, always call the police after an accident. Sure, if it’s a minor fender-bender the police might not show up and instead ask you to exchange information with the other parties, it’s better to get the green light to drive on from the horse’s mouth.
In most cases, though, you’ll need a police report to file an insurance claim and fight off any lawsuits that might arise from the accident.
4. Collect Facts/Evidence
As you wait for the police, shift your focus to collecting evidence.
You can use your phone to take photos and record videos of the scene. If there are people who witnessed the accident, feel free to speak to them and ask about their recollection of the incident. You can also ask them to share their names and contact details with you.
If there’s another party involved in the accident, take a record of the driver’s name, contact details and physical address, their vehicle’s license plate and registration information, and insurance details.
Other pieces of information to record include:
- Date and time of the accident
- Location of the accident
- Your destination
- The direction the other parties were heading
- Weather conditions i.e. slippery road, poor visibility
- Your recollection of what happened
- Personal and professional identification details of police officers who arrive at the scene.
As you go about your fact-gathering mission, it’s important to limit the information you share with other parties and the police. Do not, under any circumstance, admit liability to anyone. Also, bear in mind whatever you say can be used against you in a court of law.
5. Contact Your Insurance Coverage Provider
When you purchased auto insurance, the provider certainly gave you a number to call in case of an accident. Dial it, even if you’re not at fault.
If you have additional coverage – such as personal injury cover – call the providers as well. Depending on how responsive the insurance carriers are, they could dispatch an insurance underwriter to the scene of the accident.
Once your insurance providers are in the know, their agents will advise you on the process of filing for a claim. If the facts of the accident are well-established and the person at-fault admits liability, the claims process should be fairly straightforward.
However, this is not often the case. If you’re at fault, your insurance company might want to void some aspects of your coverage. The other party might also sue you for their losses.
What should you do?
6. Find an Auto Accident Lawyer
Auto accidents cases can end up in court. If you’re in such a situation, it’s important to lawyer up.
Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer will go a long way in ensuring nobody takes advantage of you. If you’re being wrongly accused of being at fault, your lawyer will poke holes in the police report and strive to bring the facts of the accident to light.
The law firm of Mazin & Associates has an informative article detailing all the benefits you will reap when you have a lawyer on your team.
Now You Know What to Do After an Auto Accident
Auto accidents, whether minor or major, can be traumatic experiences. However, you have the power to limit the consequences of the accident. You just need to know what to do after getting into one, and this article has fleshed out just that.
We wish you all the best and keep coming back to our blog for more useful tips.