What to Do in a Car Accident
If you find yourself in a car accident, it’s important to know what you should and should not do as well as what your responsibilities are. Knowing what to do after a car accident can help you be better prepared if you are filing a claim or need to seek legal representation because of an injury. Here are the basics of what to do following a car accident.
Check for Injuries
After you have been in an auto collision, immediately check for injuries on both yourself and your passengers. Check for visible injuries such as cuts and bruises as well as non-visible injuries such as broken bones.
Get to Safety
Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a serious accident, it’s important to get safety if you’ve been in an auto collision. Steer your car to the side of the road if you’re able to do so. If you cannot or fear that it’s unsafe to stay in the vehicle, then leave the vehicle where it is and get to safety away from the car. If you are able, turn on your hazard lights or light up a flair to alert other drivers as well.
Contact the Police
In some states, you are required to contact the police, no matter the accident type. Because this can be a strain on police resources, some departments are transitioning to online-option auto collision reporting. If you feel that your situation would be better if law enforcement is present, then you should call the police. Typically, however, if it is a serious auto collision or if someone is injured or dead, then you need to call the police.
Once the police arrive, they will create an incident report that details the accident, the drivers in both vehicles, and other details relating to the auto collision. It’s important that when the police arrive on the scene, you collect important information like the officer’s name and badge number. You should also ask for a copy of the police report as your insurance company may need this when you are filing a claim.
Either before the police get there or after they arrive, you should collect important information from the drivers involved in the auto collision. You may ask the police officer at the scene to confer with the other driver or you may do so yourself. Either way, you should collect the following from the other drivers involved:
- Their name and contact information
- Their insurance company contact information as well as their policy number
- The other driver’s vehicle make, model, color, and license plate number
When collecting information from the other driver, never share personal information such as your social security number or the coverage limits on your insurance policy.
Also, when you are sharing information with the other driver, avoid discussing fault. Do not discuss with the other driver the details of the incident as this can add fuel to the fire of an already tense situation. Discussing fault can also cause complications if your case requires legal resolution.
Collecting proper documentation is important for both filing a claim and defending yourself in the event a legal battle ensues. When you are collecting documentation, you want to include the following:
- Photos of both your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle. Make sure to take photos of where the crash occurred, but it can also help to take photos of other parts of the car where there is no damage. Be sure to take a photo of the crash scene as well to show how the cars were positioned at the scene of the accident.
- Request a copy of the police report from the officers. It can also help to write down the time, date, and the exact location of where the accident occurred as well.
- If there are any witnesses to the car accident, it can help you to get their contact information as well and even a brief written or recorded statement of what they saw happen.
Contact Your Insurance
You’ll need to contact your insurance company as quickly as you can in order to start a claim. If you’re able to, contact the insurance company while you are still at the scene of the accident. This will allow you to gather all the necessary information that your insurance representative may ask for. Do not rely on the other driver to contact the insurance company. Instead, make sure to go ahead and make the phone call yourself. It’s best not to agree to a recorded statement at this time. If you prefer, you can call an attorney before you call the insurance company. Just be sure to act quickly either way.
When to Seek Legal Representation
Dealing with a car accident can be a stressful and emotionally driven experience. Having a knowledgeable representative on your side can help you navigate this process. If you or someone you know has suffered because of an auto collision, reach out to one of our experienced attorneys today. The attorneys at Ochoa and Calderón can help you get the legal representation you deserve.