If you’re involved in a car accident—even one in which no injuries are sustained—there are several steps you’ll need to take in order to properly handle the situation. Not only that, there are certain steps that are crucial for the success of your claim. Keep reading to learn all the steps you need to take after a wreck.
10 Steps to Take
#1: Stay Where You Are
Driving away from the scene of an accident prematurely can result in serious consequences. Play it safe and stay where you are until you’ve been cleared to leave.
#2: Make Sure the Scene is Safe
It’s a good idea to set up flares if you have them and turn on your flashers to alert other drivers of the incident. That way, you can help prevent other drivers from further accidents.
#3: Call 9-1-1
It’s in your best interest to have the police come and make an accident report. You may need this documentation to file a claim with your insurance company, even if you only intend to file a claim for property damage. Don’t move your vehicle until after the authorities have arrived unless it is blocking the flow of traffic. If that’s the case, snap a few quick photos and/or videos of the collided cars from as many angles as possible, and then move your vehicle.
#4: Provide an Accurate Account of the Events
Be sure to provide an accurate account of the events as you remember them. If there is certain information that you don’t know, tell that to the officer. Don’t speculate or make assumptions about anything. If the officer asks you whether you are injured and you are unsure, be honest about it. Don’t tell him or her that you are not injured unless you are absolutely certain. It is common for the pain of injuries sustained not to appear right away. In fact, some people don’t feel any pain for hours, days, or even weeks following a crash. It’s also a good idea to listen in when the other party makes their statement so that you can dispute any misstated facts.
#5: Photograph and/or Video the Scene
Use your smartphone to take photos and/or videos of any visible damages to all vehicles involved in the crash. If you have any visible injuries, take pictures of them. If you are unable to take photos or videos at the scene of the accident, it’s wise to return as soon as possible to take pictures. In addition, it’s a good idea to photograph or video the following:
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Any hazards in the road
- All vehicles involved in the wreck from several different angles
- Close-ups of the vehicular damages
- Close-ups of your bodily injuries
- Any other property that was damaged in the accident
- I.e. street lights, electrical poles, your GPS device, etc.
#6: Exchange Information
It’s common for the investigating officer to collect information from all parties involved in a crash. Although, it may be wise for you to gather this information on your own. Be sure to collect the following information from all drivers and passengers involved, as well as any witnesses:
- Physical address
- Phone number
Additionally, it’s a good idea to take photos of the following pieces of information from all drivers involved in the wreck:
- Insurance card (front and back)
- Driver’s license (front and back)
- Vehicle registration
Finally, be sure you obtain the police report number from the authorities before they leave. You’ll need it to retrieve the police report when it becomes available—typically about 10 business days following the accident.
#7: Get Medical Care
Many injured accident victims don’t feel the pain of injuries for hours, days, or even weeks following a crash. You may not feel injured at the time of the crash, but that doesn’t mean you’ll walk away from the incident completely unharmed. Unless you are 100% sure you are unharmed, it’s in your best interest to seek medical attention immediately following the accident so that your doctor can conduct an examination to discover any injuries that you may not be aware of right away.
#8: Consult a Skilled Car Accident Attorney
You should speak with your attorney before providing any information about the accident to the insurance company. A skilled car accident lawyer will be able to tell you how to protect your claim so that you don’t inadvertently make costly mistakes. Additionally, he or she will help you protect your rights and prevent useful evidence from destruction.
#9: Contact the Insurance Company
Within a reasonable amount of time following the accident, you’ll need to provide a statement to your insurance company. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t do so without first consulting your attorney. In fact, it’s best to have your attorney with you when you provide your accident statement to your insurance company. This is especially true when you file a claim with another party’s insurance company because they will likely do everything they can to reduce the value of your claim so they don’t have to pay you the full value of your damages.
#10: Retain Everything and Stay Organized
For the best chances of a successful claim, you’ll want to keep all documentation related to your claim neatly organized and in one place. The better your documentation is, the better your chances will be of a favorable outcome. Keep the following information organized, together, and handy:
- Claim number
- Claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim
- Names and phone numbers of all contacts
- Rental car receipts
- Receipts for any other expenses you incurred due to the wreck
We’re Here to Support You
Getting into a car accident is never a good experience, but we can help ease the burden. Our attorneys are highly skilled in car accident personal injury law and have helped many other people in similar situations obtain favorable outcomes. Let us see if we can help you, too.