Car accidents can occur at any time and at any place. In the moments following a car crash, it’s difficult to think clearly. Because of trauma and emotions associated with a car collision, many drivers make silly mistakes that limit their right to receiving compensation from insurance companies.
To ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes, we will discuss some important steps that you must take after a car accident:
Stay at the Accident Scene
Don’t try to leave the accident scene even if you think that the accident was your fault. If you leave the scene, you might face serious criminal charges even if the accident was not your fault. The other party can file hit-and-run charges against you. Once you are caught by the police, you will be in deep trouble.
Check Yourself, Passengers and Other Driver for Injuries
Before assessing the condition of your vehicle, make sure that everyone involved in the crash is okay. Call 911 if anyone is injured. If a person has back pain or neck pain or is unconscious, don’t try to move them until paramedics arrive at the scene.
Call the Police
Whether the accident is minor or major, alert the police. When police officers arrive at the accident scene, tell them the details of the accident. However, don’t accept your fault or blame the other party for the accident. Your statements can be used against you by insurance adjusters and they may deny your claim if you accept fault.
The police don’t always arrive at the scene of the accident. If the police don’t come, you will have to go to the station to file a report.
If the car that was involved had prior dents/scratches that you know weren’t apart of the accident, you can always check if a car has had an accident in the past including a cat c write off with companies like CarVeto. You will need a car reg number (otherwise known as a vrm). Enter the number into the website that will go about searching all of the history for that particular vehicle. The result is pretty instant and provides detailed information from insurance category write-offs to outstanding finance agreements.
Exchange information like names, addresses, phone number, license plate numbers, drivers’ license number and basic insurance information from drivers involved in the accident. If passengers are involved in the accident, obtain their names, addresses, and number. Try to be cooperative when talking to other drivers and don’t point fingers on anyone.
However, don’t apologize for anything. For example, don’t say, “I am sorry I was driving really fast.” If you say something like this, it means that you are accepting that the accident occurred because of your mistake.
Talk to Witnesses
There is a good chance that people nearby saw what happened and how the accident took place. Ask the witnesses what they say and get their names, addresses, and phone numbers. You should also ask locals if they have witnessed similar accidents in the same spot.
Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle after the accident. Also, take pictures of the condition of the road. Photos are important because they will help your insurance adjuster determine the compensatory amount that should be awarded to you for the damage to your vehicle. Pictures of your vehicle before the accident may be compared with those taken after the crash to show the extent of damage your vehicle sustained in the collision.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After you have recorded the evidence, the next step is to inform your insurance company about the accident. Tell them what happened and the injuries you sustained. Explain the facts truthfully and clearly. Don’t try to misrepresent anything or lie about what happened.
If your insurance company later found out that you lied to them about the accident, you will get into trouble. They might deny your claim simply because you lied to them. However, don’t tell them that the accident occurred because of your mistake. The insurance agent might try to make you accept your fault. So you should be very careful about what you say.
Seek Medical Treatment as soon as Possible
Your injuries may not warrant emergency treatment, but you should go to a doctor to get yourself checked after the accident. Sometimes injuries aren’t apparent on the surface, but patients start experiencing symptoms a few days after a crash. Therefore, it is important for you to get yourself checked.
Keep a record of the medical treatment you are seeking and each healthcare provider that you visit. Also, request copies of medical bills and reports as these will help you prove all your medical expenses.
Documenting medical expenses and getting compensated for them isn’t too hard. However, pain and suffering can be trickier to prove when you file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. So, keep a journal to record how the injuries you suffered in a car accident have affected your daily life. Include the routine activities you are missing and how your family has been affected because of your injuries.
Don’t Accept an Early Settlement Offer
The insurance company of at-fault driver may try to contact you and settle the case with an early settlement offer. You should never accept this offer as insurance agents generally make a lowball settlement offer so that they don’t have to pay the actual amount that you may be entitled to. Some injuries don’t reach their highest discomfort level late and if you accept an early settlement offer, you won’t be compensated for all your medical expenses.
Hire an Attorney
If you were injured in the car accident, you might want to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. An experienced car accident attorney may be able to help you receive the compensation you are entitled to. They will collect the evidence required to strengthen your position at the court. If you go about filing a personal injury claim on your own, you might not be able to prove that the accident happened due to the other driver’s fault. As a result, you won’t receive compensation from the damages you suffered as a result of the car accident injury.
By taking these steps after a car accident, you will be in a good position to get compensated for your damages. So if you are ever involved in a car accident anywhere, do everything we have listed above to ensure that you receive compensation for your damages.
*This article was contributed.