No matter how safely you drive, car accidents are unavoidable. Depending on how well you handle the aftermath of an accident, you could potentially settle your claim without issues and recover damages for any injuries you've suffered. If you're wondering what to do after a car accident, the checklists below will help you protect yourself and your interests in the aftermath of an accident.
Before the Accident: Be Prepared
Car accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. Therefore, you should always carry the following necessary items in your car to avoid any penalties and inconvenience.
- Keep a copy of the Motor Vehicle Accidents checklist in your vehicle.
- Have your insurance card, driver's license, and registration with you or in your vehicle at all times.
- Keep a safety kit in your vehicle.
What to Do At the Accident Scene
Experiencing any type of car accident can be frightening and overwhelming. It can be difficult to immediately think of what to do at the accident scene. However, you should try your best to stay calm and cooperate with others. Here are some important steps to take at the accident scene to protect your rights.
- Stay at the scene. Take a deep breath and try not to panic.
- Check yourself, other drivers, and passengers for injuries. Call the ambulance if anyone is in need of medical attention.
- Call the police if there are injuries, death, or serious property damage. Even if no one is injured, it's a good idea to call the police so they can document the accident. You can file a police report later, but it is good to do it immediately to record accurate information on the scene of the accident.
- Move the vehicles out of traffic on the side of the road if the accident is minor.
- Turn on your vehicle's hazard lights.
- Take photos of the damage and surrounding area, if possible.
- Gather information by taking notes on the details of the accident scene to preserve as much evidence as you can.
- Gather information on other drivers who may be responsible for the accident. Get his or her name, address, contact number, insurance company name and policy number. You should provide the same information to the other driver only - do not give personal information to other drivers, passengers, or witnesses.
- Obtain the contact information of any witnesses on the scene of the accident.
- Do not sign any papers (unless it's for the police).
- Do not admit fault or discuss the incident until after you have hired an attorney.
- Do not leave the accident scene without completing the tasks on this list. A "hit-and-run" can be a criminal offense.
Things to Do After Leaving the Accident Scene
After you leave the accident scene, there are additional steps you should immediately take to protect your rights and recover any damages you've suffered.
- Contact your insurance company and tell them what happened as soon as possible.
- Get a copy of the accident report filed by the police or other drivers.
- Keep detailed notes on your injuries and physical and mental conditions.
- Track your medical treatment.
- Get a property damage valuation. Your insurance company may send an appraiser or adjuster to assist you with this process.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights. Before you provide any statements to the other driver or his or her insurance company, you should seek legal advice to limit your liability and receive full compensation for any damages you suffered.
Discuss Your Car Accident Claim with a Lawyer
Handling the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming. Most of the time, your insurance company will give you directions to file a claim. However, you should be wary of early settlement offers. Contact an injury lawyer in your area today who can help you to maximize the amount of damages you can recover.