Getting in a car accident is not fun. Your car is wrecked, you may have been injured, and on top of all that, you have to deal with insurance companies. Great. Accidents happen so fast and there are so many things to do in a small amount of time. Here’s a quick checklist of what to do when you get in a car accident:
Get the other driver’s information. The more information the better. But the most important information you’ll need is; their driver’s license, the vehicle registration, their auto insurance information (policy number), tag number, and the make and model of the vehicle. The best way to get that information is……
TAKE PICTURES OF EVERYTHING!!!!!! If is safe to do so, take pictures of the collision. If it’s a busy road with a lot of traffic, pull over to the side of the road and turn on your hazards. Take pictures of their driver’s license, registration card, and proof of insurance. Take pictures of the damage to the vehicles (close up and far away) Take pictures of the surrounding areas, take pictures of the other driver, take pictures of EVERYTHING. There is no such thing as too many pictures after an auto accident. It may feel silly when you’re doing it, but you’ll thank yourself later.
Get any witnesses’ information. If there is anybody at the scene of the accident who witnessed the collision first hand, ask them for their information. A phone number or e-mail is fine. In most car accident cases it’s your word vs. the other driver’s word. If you have witnesses to back up your story insurance companies are more likely to side with you.
Call your insurance company. Set up a claim with your insurance company to let them know you were in an accident. They’ll want to know when it happened, where it happened, and how it happened. It’s important to do it quickly while the details are still fresh in your mind.
Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance. (Without an attorney) Most insurance companies will want to contact you shortly after the accident and do one of two things. (1) Make you give a statement that places you at fault or (2) offer to give you WAY LESS money than your case is worth. Do not speak with the other insurance company until you’ve talked to a lawyer.
Seek medical treatment. Almost all of my clients who experience injuries from car accidents tell me that they didn’t feel any pain until the day after. The adrenaline of being in an accident suppresses the pain until you wake up the next day. (Or when the pain wakes you up in the middle of the night!) Sometimes it’s just some aches and pains, but other times its serious injuries like broken bones or concussions. Either way, going to your primary care physician, an urgent care clinic, or even the hospital will help you decide whether or not you need to seek more serious medical care.
Call an attorney. And not only if you’ve been injured. I am always happy to give free consultations when folks are in car accidents. Car insurance companies are confusing to deal with. (they do it on purpose) Why not talk to an attorney that knows how to deal with them and cut through all their B.S.? A lawyer that works in the personal injury field can help you with numbers 4,5, &6 of this checklist so you don’t have to!!!
Being hurt in a car accident sucks. But, if you follow all the steps on this checklist, it will definitely suck less.