Car accidents in the U.S. are responsible for more than $380 million in medical costs. There are other costs that are hidden, such as emotional costs, loss of income, and property costs.
You get into an automobile accident. You’re likely to go right into fight or flight mode, which can make the whole situation a mess.
You might run from the scene, which is a crime. You might miss a step that causes insurance to deny your claim.
It’s critical to stay calm and take the necessary steps to protect you, your financial well-being, and others involved in the accident.
Do you want to learn the steps to take right after an auto accident? Read on to find out what they are.
1. Check for Injuries
The very first thing you should do is to make sure that everyone is OK. Check yourself first. You might be injured and not realize it because adrenaline is running through your veins.
Take a breath, assess yourself first. Then, check on the others involved. If anyone is injured, call 911 to send an ambulance and the police.
2. Move to a Safe Space
You don’t want the cars to stay in a place where there is a lot of traffic trying to get by. That creates a dangerous situation for everyone.
Move the vehicles involved in the accident to the shoulder or another safe area, if it’s possible to do so. If you have flares or other emergency gear, use them to help direct other cars in the area and to keep you safe.
If a gas tank was ruptured in the accident, there is a chance of an explosion or fire. Get people in the area away from the vehicle and call 911 immediately.
3. Say as Little as Possible
If everyone was OK and you’re about to exchange information with another driver, you need to be careful with your words.
Saying something seemingly innocuous could be taken as an admission of guilt. That could hurt you in the long run because you and your insurance company become responsible for the damages.
Just stick with basic information as you exchange information and talk about the accident.
4. Call the Police
A police report will support your documentation during the insurance claims process. That’s why it’s an important step.
Be sure to get the names and badge numbers of all officers at the scene. Ask them how you can get a copy of the police report. You’ll need it for your records.
5. Gather Information About the Accident
There are some basic things that you should record right away. You can do this using a voice recorder app, write it down, or whatever method works for you.
You should document the location of the accident, being as specific as you can. Note the position of the cars before and after the auto wreck.
Take down the names and addresses of everyone who saw the accident of was involved in it. Get the insurance information for the other cars in the accident.
If you can, take photographs of the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the damage to all of the vehicles, and of the road conditions. Snap pictures of anything else that caused the accident.
The best thing to do is to keep a checklist of things to document in your glove compartment. Hopefully, you’ll never need it. The automobile accident checklist ensures that you don’t miss anything that could haunt you later on.
The person driving the other vehicle in the accident may ask you for a photo of your driver’s license. It’s not necessary as long as you give them your insurance information.
Be wary of giving away too much info like that and your social security number. That information can easily be used for fraud and ID theft.
6. Understand Insurance Policies
Ask the average person about their car insurance policy, and they won’t know much about it beyond how much they pay each month.
You should understand how much your insurance will pay if you were at fault or if the other driver was at fault.
Should you file an insurance claim? You might decide that since it was a fender-bender or minor crash, that you can skip the insurance claim.
You figure that it’s better that way because you don’t want the premiums to increase on your policy. If that’s the case, then you want to find auto insurance that has a better policy before you get into an accident.
Skipping that step could cost you more money than you realize. A small fender-bender with a new car could cost $1,000 or more to repair.
You could be responsible for medical issues that become apparent 24-48 hours after the accident. Filing a claim after the fact will get denied. The insurance company won’t be able to fully investigate the claim, leaving you on the hook for everything.
7. Find a Personal Injury Attorney
Yes, there’s the joke that these attorneys are nothing more than ambulance chasers. However, they can be incredibly helpful in resolving car accident claims.
They can be a resource for you as you deal with insurance companies. They’ll also do much of the work for you if you followed the steps above. You’re more likely to get a favorable settlement with an attorney, too.
Take the Right Steps Following an Automobile Accident
How can you know for sure what you need to do right after an automobile accident? Just follow this checklist of items.
You have responsibilities to those around you, and you have to take precautions to protect yourself. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s necessary.
You never know when an automobile accident will happen. The more you know about these steps and prepare for them, the better off you’ll be.
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