It is recommended that you take the following steps if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident:
STOP – You should never leave the scene of an accident, even if it appears to be minor. You could be arrested for driving or walking away. If your vehicle is drivable, pull off to the side of the road to get out of traffic. It could be dangerous to remain on the road. Use flares if you have them or turn on your emergency flashers to warn other motorists that an accident has occurred.
SEEK MEDICAL CARE – If you or anyone in your vehicle has been hurt and you need urgent medical care, call 911. If you don’t believe you were injured, it is still recommended to be seen by a medical professional as injuries aren’t always immediately apparent. You also may need medical documentation if you wish to file a claim against another negligent party.
CALL THE POLICE – Even if no one is injured, calling the police is a good idea. Not only can they help control traffic, making it more safe for everyone, but they will make a report, collect evidence, and talk to potential witnesses. These are key elements when seeking restitution through insurance companies and/or personal injury claims.
TAKE NOTE AND PHOTOS – If possible, take a moment to look around you and note the particulars of the area. Details may be forgotten later, so note the time of day, the weather condition and how many people were in both vehicles, drivers, and passengers. Most people carry a cell phone with a camera so it is a good idea to get photos of your own. Take photos of your vehicle and the vehicle of the other persona involved. Take a picture of their license plate, driver’s license and insurance card to have a handy record of it. If there are witnesses to the accident, ask for their names and contact information. In a claim where liability is not necessarily obvious, witnesses may play a key role in determining what really happened.
CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY – Once you are safe and have received medical attention, if necessary, contact your insurer. Most insurance companies have a 24-hour helpline or claim representatives available whatever time of day it is. They will ask pertinent information from you and will document it in your claim file. They also will be able to help with things such as obtaining a rental car and getting your vehicle repaired.
GET EXPERIENCED LEGAL GUIDANCE – Car accidents are frightening and confusing and you may not know where to turn if you have questions. The driver of the other vehicle involved may deny responsibility, leaving you to worry and wonder how you will get the medical treatment you need and compensation for lost time and income. Even if the responsible party admits fault, their insurance company will try to pay out the minimum amount of money possible. You don’t have to accept their lowball offer.