11 Things You Need to Do After a Car Accident - Over six million car accidents occur each year in the United States. Luckily, most of them only involve property damage - damage to the vehicle as opposed to the occupants. However still one in every three accidents have some kind of personal injury to the driver or passengers of the car. Of those 33.33% tow in ten or 20% are fatally wounded and are left with fatal injuries taking them to the hospital and at times emergency room.
The follow are 10 things you can do if you are ever in an auto accident, some simple yet important steps you can take, some involving insurance and others some for your personal well-being.
1. STOP. Never leave the scene of the accident or drive away. Always remain at the scene until all the proper information has been gathered, even if the accident was minor.
2. PROTECT THE OTHER DRIVERS. You can prevent from further accidents and other drivers by getting to the side of the road, putting your emergency blinkers on and even setting up flares to notify other drivers of the accident and to steer clear of your vehicles. You can also keep a flashlight in your vehicle if you are ever in an accident at night and need to have visibility to see and to let other drivers there is someone distressed or hurt on the road. This will allow you to see where you're going and if your car's lights turned off from the accident it will allow the other drivers to see you walking near the scene of the accident.
3. CALL THE POLICE. Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. Insurance companies in most cases need the police report to file the claim correctly, even if it wasn't you're fault and you don't need to file a claim with your own company, you will need it for the other person's insurance company for them to have an accurate record of the accident.
4. MAKE AN ACCURATE RECORD. When the police arrive, make sure you tell the police officer(s) exactly what happened and if you can use witnesses to confirm your story. Some people deny fault and cases are required to go to court, in that case it's always a good idea to get a witness if you need to confirm who's fault it was in the accident. If it was you're fault be sure to be honest about it and go a head and start a claim on you're insurance. In this case it's good to have accident forgiveness on your vehicles. This allows you to get into an accident without increasing your premiums. It's also a very good idea to have low deductibles or to deductible rewards which will cover your normal $500-$1000 deductible costs. When telling to investigative officer do not speculate, guess or misstate any of the facts. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Often, the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent hours after the actual collision. You should also make sure statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well.
5. TAKE PICTURES. If you want further proof of the accident, it's a good idea to use your camera (on a phone or in your car) to show proof of the damage in the accident. Old insurance companies used to give you an estimate for your insurance coverage and pay out immediately upon seeing your damage, then later the damage to the vehicle was so much worse than the estimated amount that it left people paying for much of the damage themselves and the insurance company only would "guess" the damage based off the photo. That doesn't happen anymore, it still is good to have proof of damage for the police report and for the insurance company to see the general idea of the accident. . If you have visible injuries, you should photograph them as well for your PIP coverage and or health insurance provider. However, you should in no way interfere with the on-going police investigation. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
6. EXCHANGE INFORMATION. Whether the police are going to be arriving at the accident or not you always need to exchange insurance information. Don't just run off if you don't see any damage. There usually is damage that you find later that you thought was benign at the scene of the accident. If you need the police there, they can help you exchange information and get the insurance companies involved for you. If there are witnesses, you should get information from them as well so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. If police respond to the accident, the investigating officer usually will provide all drivers with a police report number. You can use that number later to obtain the police report. If the accident occurs on a state highway, you must request the report from the state police.
7- CONTACT THE RIGHT INSURANCE COMPANY. When you are filing your insurance claim make sure you contact the right insurance company. Some claim departments will file a claim on your own insurance even though you weren't at fault, this will cause you to have a claim on your insurance and can cause your premiums to go up and cause further "past accidents" on your insurance record which will increase premiums if you decide to switch companies in the future. It may seem simple but people make this mistake a lot, thinking they need to file something for their own insurance even though they weren't at fault.
8. REPORT THE ACCIDENT IMMEDIATELY. Don't wait to file the claim with you're insurance until later. Even and especially if you're at the scene of the accident, the details won't be fussy later, they're fresh now so make sure you're calling your company that same moment of the accident just to notify them of the accident, even if you're not filing a claim. This helps you're agent stay on top of this claim if he needs to have something on his file for subrogation purposes. They will be able to see the details of the accident and speak to the underwriting claims team about the accident and inform them of the subrogation process, it's also good to have all that information on their file if for whatever reason the need to know of the accident in the future. This is also good if you have any medical benefits such as PIP. PIP coverage or (Personal Injury Protection, it's also sometimes called "Medpay") is a no faulty coverage meaning it doesn't matter who's fault it was for the accident. This will cover any medical payments up to whatever limit you have, $3000 is the minimum required by insurance companies in the state of Utah, it may differ by state. If you've exhausted you're PIP you may need to talk to you're health insurance provider for further medical payments of the damages to you're person.
9- SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Most of our clients report feeling the most pain a day or two following an automobile accident. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician. Even in accidents involving minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for even a short period of time following the collision, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
10. KEEP A FILE. Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the claim's adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
11. PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. Perhaps the most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult your attorney. Your attorney can protect your rights and make sure valuable evidence is not destroyed. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle to how to make sure you are getting the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.