Ever heard the saying, “Hope for the best, expect the worst”? That’s the approach you have to take when it comes to car accidents. You need to prepare for the worst because the unexpected can certainly happen.
We never want to imagine ourselves or our loved ones in a car accident. But if we prepare ahead of time, we’ll have a better sense of what to expect if it ever occurs. That makes dealing with what comes next a little easier.
Warren Allen LLP has worked with many clients who have been involved in car accidents. Here’s what you need to know on-scene and what to expect afterward.
Check If Anyone Is Injured
The first thing you want to do if you’ve been involved in a car accident is to make sure everyone is okay. Check those in the car with you and any other people involved in the crash. If someone appears injured and you’re able to call for help, seek medical attention. If the situation is an emergency, call 911 right away.
Even if you don’t feel injured and decline medical attention at the time of the accident, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor afterward. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and some people don’t feel pain until a day or two after the accident. That’s why it’s important to get checked out on-site or to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you’re able.
Move Your Car to a Safe Place
You should also make sure that if you’re in harm’s way and you’re able to move your vehicle, you do so. Always make sure you’re in the safest place possible and use your hazard lights to alert other drivers to the presence of your car. If you’re unsure whether you should move your car, ask the dispatcher for advice. Which leads us to the next step.
Call the Police
Once you have checked for injuries and called for help if necessary, you should contact the police. You will need to file a police report to start an insurance claim and to establish who is at fault for the accident.
Once an officer arrives, they will ask questions to determine what happened. Answer them to the best of your ability. If you’re unsure of the answer, it’s okay to tell the officer that.
Try to avoid making assumptions about what may have happened. Provide what details you remember, and be sure to inform the officer of any statements provided by other people that you believe to be untrue.
Also, remember to never assume responsibility for the accident on-scene. Even if you believe the accident to be your fault, stick with the facts and avoid taking the blame until the accident can be properly investigated.
It may take the responding officer some time to arrive. But there are things you can do while you’re waiting.
First, take photos of your car and any other cars involved in the accident. Documenting the scene may help provide evidence to bolster your claim if a dispute arises later.
You may also want to jot down a few notes about what happened in case you’re asked to recall something about the accident later on. You should also take photos of any visible injuries you have as a result of the accident.
Once the officer arrives on the scene, they should collect insurance and ID information from everyone involved and help facilitate its exchange. However, you can also gather this information yourself as you’re waiting for the officer to arrive.
If you collect this information yourself, be sure to ask for the names and contact information of all the drivers and passengers involved in the accident, including driver’s license numbers. Ask for their insurance companies and policy numbers and jot down information about the cars involved, such as make, year, and model. Also, make note of the license plate numbers.
If there are any witnesses on the scene, be sure to get their contact information as well. The responding officer should provide you with a copy of the police report with the officer’s name and badge number on it, but if not, jot it down. Finally, make note of the accident location with the exact address if you have it.
Contact Your Insurance Agent
You should contact your insurance agent to file a claim as soon as possible, but you’ll want to complete the other steps first because your insurance agent will need this information to process the claim. For instance, your agent will likely ask you for the police report number and for the insurance information of the other people involved in the accident.
Your insurance agent will then go over the claims process. For example, if you require medical attention, your insurance agent will let you know if your medical expenses are included in your coverage. Your agent will also inform you of any deductible you need to pay or any other out-of-pocket expenses for which you’re responsible.
If your car is damaged and needs to be towed, your insurance agent should be able to contact a tow company for you. Your insurance agent will also have a list of repair shops for you to choose from for your repair work. And if you need a rental car, your insurance agent can make a reservation for you.
Keep a Record of Receipts
Be sure to keep a record of all receipts for expenses made as a result of the accident. For instance, if you need to take a ride share service to the rental car company, be sure to retain that receipt.
Keep a record of all expenses you incur related to the accident. Your insurance company may reimburse you for them, which is why it’s important you keep a detailed record.
Contact an Attorney
Hopefully, the above steps are the only ones you’ll need to complete. However, sometimes disputes arise over who is responsible for the car accident, and you’ll need to obtain legal representation. Or you may have suffered serious injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you will need to retain a personal injury lawyer.
If either of these situations occurs, you’ll want to have an advocate on your side to help you navigate them. That’s where Warren Allen can help. We can provide advice, help you resolve disputes, and ensure you get the compensation you’re entitled to receive.
A car accident is a terrible thing to experience, but we want to make what follows go as smoothly as possible. That’s why we work to get you the best resolution we can.