Auto accidents tend to happen unexpectedly and at any moment. It is estimated that over 6 million people are involved in crashes each year in the U.S. If you have been involved in a car crash, then you may be feeling confused and anxious. However, knowing what steps to take after a car accident will help you remain calm and make things much easier for you when dealing with your insurance provider later on.
1. Check for any injuries and risks
Eric Brandt, chief claims officer at Esurance, an auto insurance company, advises that safety should be your top priority after an accident. You need to assess your current condition and safety status and investigate the scene to determine if anyone else involved in the accident is in need of urgent medical treatment.
You need to quickly examine the surroundings: Are there any signs of smoke? Is there a presence of heavy traffic?
2. Move to a safer position and/or call 911
After ensuring that everyone around you is okay, you need to move to a much safer location, such as the sidewalk or shoulder of the road. In case there are injuries, call 911, switch off your car and turn on the hazard lights. Don’t leave the site until the emergency services arrive.
3. Call the police
You should always call in the police whenever you are involved in a car accident, regardless of if the crash is minor and no one is injured. Various states require you to file an accident report with local law enforcement. The responding police officers will request your registration, license, insurance, amongst other information. Remember to ask the attending officers’ names, badge numbers, and contact details. Additionally, don’t forget to request a final copy of the police accident report for your insurance claim.
4. Exchange information with the other parties involved in the accident
Collect the other driver’s name, phone number, license information, name of the other driver’s insurance company, insurance policy number, email address, and license plate numbers. (It may be helpful to take photos of some of this information; refer to tip #6.)
You also need to note down the relationship between the driver and the car owner (if the driver isn’t the owner) and the vehicle’s brand, model, and color. If there are any witnesses available at the scene, you will need to collect their full names and contact details.
You should avoid signing any documents unless they are for the insurance agent or police.
5. Try to remain calm
While emotions may run high in the wake of an accident, it is important to try and remain calm. You shouldn’t take it upon yourself to determine which party is at fault. All you need to do is exchange all the required information with the other party and let the insurance firms and their lawyers handle the rest.
6. Document the scene
Using your smartphone or camera, take photos of the scene. Take photos of all the cars involved in the accident from different angles. Remember to capture the damages inflicted on the vehicles, the presence or absence of skid marks, road hazards, and other relevant evidence. As mentioned earlier, it is also important to take photos of other cars’ license plate numbers, and the other drivers’ registration, license, and insurance documents. This can prove to be very helpful if you wrote down some inaccurate information or misplace your notes.
Certain insurance firms provide an app that allows you to submit these photos instead of waiting for an adjuster to investigate the damage.
7. Record what occurred
Note down everything that you can recall about the accident. This includes the weather, location, time of day, road conditions, traffic signs, and any other relevant details. In case you don’t have a pen at hand, you can dictate everything into your phone the notes tool, or send yourself a voice-to-text memo. This way, you will ensure that you preserve all the important details that you may require later on.
8. Notify your insurance provider
Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible, even while still at the scene of the accident. This will help to get the claims process started much faster while the evidence is still fresh. You may also want to contact a lawyer, speak to Stephens Law Firm Accident Lawyers for advice.
9. Reassess your condition
You may suffer some internal injuries in a car accident but fail to realize it immediately. This is why it is important to get a full-body examination from a medical specialist. Getting your injuries documented will be crucial in supporting your car accident insurance claim.