10 Things to do After a Car Accident
According to the National Safety Council, there were an estimated 40,000 deaths in 2016 due to motor vehicle crashes. That number is a 6% rise from 2015 and a 14% increase in deaths since 2014. In addition to these fatalities, the Council also estimates 4.6 million serious injuries as a result of road injuries resulting in costs of about $432 billion.
Car accidents can be traumatic experiences, not only for the injured but also for their families, friends, fellow passengers, and pedestrians. While you can never truly be prepared, there are certain steps you can take to ensure the best outcome in terms of financial liability. Here is a list of 10 things to do after an accident:
Check on the status of passengers.
Human injuries require more immediate attention than damage to your property. Try to assess the extent of everyone’s injuries so you can accurately direct medical personnel to those who need attention first. Avoid moving unconscious individuals or those with neck/back pain as doing so may actually end up causing more harm than good.
Stay at the scene.
Even if you are involved in a minor incident, wait until the authorities arrive to give your account of the events. Driving away may cause you more headaches, especially if someone has been seriously injured. You may face serious criminal penalties for fleeing the scene.
Call the police.
Even if there are no serious injuries, calling the police can help protect your rights when it comes to filing a claim with your insurance company. In the event of any kind of accident, pedestrians or witnesses may call the police themselves even if you and another driver agree to handle matters yourself. You should still be prepared to answer their questions and cooperate. For serious accidents that involve injuries, expect to give a statement about what you saw and the actions you took.
Provide an accurate statement.
Tell investigators your account of events to the best of your ability. If you can’t recall specific details, be honest instead of guessing. When asked about any injuries you have sustained, it’s better to say that you are unsure instead of writing off the possibility because injuries from auto accidents may take days to materialize.
Use your phone to take pictures of specific areas of damage, the position of vehicles, the cross streets, and even shots of witnesses who are standing around. The scene of an accident can be hectic and confusing, so it’s natural that you may be unsure of exact details. Having images to look back on can provide clarity. If the accident leads to court appearances, you can also use pictures as evidence, or your attorneys can try to find witnesses to testify on your behalf.
Cover all your bases by getting the names, addresses, and numbers of all persons involved in the accident – drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike. You should also make note of the name of the officer who took your statement and their badge number. Obtaining accident reports or following up on the status of the report will be easier if you have these details handy.
Seek medical attention.
Seek medical attention at the scene of the accident, or immediately after at your local emergency room. Even minor accidents can cause serious injuries to your back or spinal cord.
Talk to witnesses to get an idea of what he or she saw.
Get names, numbers, or addresses if possible. You never know if the other driver will file a claim against you and having witness details can help.
Keep a file of all your accident-related documents and information.
This includes police documents, pictures, witness details, medical bills, medical statements, the claim documents related to your case including the name of the claim adjuster, receipts for rental car expenses, and other expenses incurred because of the incident.
Hire an attorney.
If the accident caused serious injuries to any party, having a lawyer to represent you will alleviate some of your stress. Work with a lawyer who is experienced when it comes to personal injuries so they can get you the best settlement.