What you do immediately after getting into a car accident can be critical to your success with insurance companies or in the courtroom.
What should you do after a car accident?
1. Safety. Naturally, the first thing you should do is ensure your safety and that of any others involved in the accident. Call 911 if anybody has been injured in the car accident.
2. Don’t Move Anything. Turn off your engine, put on your hazards and then step to the side of the road. Only get out of the car if you are clear of traffic or if you are not injured. Do not attempt to move the vehicle. Leave the car in place to help the police determine who is liable for the accident.
3. Call the Police. Never allow anyone to convince you that no damage was done and it’s ok to handle the situation privately. A police report needs to be made. Make sure to get the report number and name of the reporting officer. If for some reason the police do not respond, go to the local police station as soon as possible and file an accident report.
4. Exchange Information. It’s better to get all the information you might need quickly. Get each driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance company and their insurance policy number. You should also note the description of the vehicle, including the make, model, year, color and any visible damage to the car.
5. Talk to Witnesses. Having a witness is always a good thing to have. Before they leave the scene of the accident ask them for their name and contact information. Ask them if they would mind waiting for the police to arrive to give a statement. If they cannot wait, you have their contact information to give to the police.
6. Photographs. Take multiple photos of the damage to both vehicles involved in the accident. In your photos make sure to include any damages, each car’s license plate and the other driver if possible. You should also step back and take photos of the surrounding area, street layout and anything that might be useful to your insurance company or your attorney.
7. Never Admit Fault. It might or might not have been your fault. That’s not up to you to decide. You should explain exactly what happened to the police officer. The officer, insurance companies, and attorneys will then look at all of the information to accurately determine who caused the accident.
8. File an Insurance Claim. Call your insurance provider and file a new claim on the accident.
9. Protect Your Rights. Contact a personal injury attorney immediately. Insurance companies have attorneys who are looking out for the best interests of the insurance company. It’s extremely important that you have a personal injury attorney who is looking out for your best interest.