I Was in a Car Accident, What Do I Do?
I Was in a Car Accident, What Do I Do?
Dealing With a Car Crash
According to the U.S Census Bureau there have been over 10 million car crashes in the U.S. each year starting in 2004 and ending in 2008. That’s over 50 million car crashes in a five-year period. With numbers like that you can safely assume that everyone will have to deal with a car accident at some point in their lives. Everyone should know what to do in the event of a car crash to make sure that the event isn’t anymore stressful and difficult than it needs to be.
This is the first thing you need to do in the event of a car crash. In some cases this is easier said than done. Car accidents can be very traumatic and being calm may be the last thing on your mind. But be assured, staying calm is critical so that the accident can be documented correctly and all necessary information is obtained.
After a crash, if you are not seriously hurt, you will want to gather as much information as you can. You should write down the name, address and phone number of the other parties involved in the accident. You will also want to write down the name of their insurance company, their policy number, drivers license number and their license plate number. If the name of the driver is different from the name on the insurance policy of the vehicle you should write down the driver’s name and relationship to the person whose name is on the policy. Write down the location of the accident and how it occurred. When writing how the accident happened, or when speaking with police about what happened you should be polite and be truthful, but you should NOT admit fault for the crash even if you think you might be at fault. This may benefit you if legal action is taken later by one of the other parties. You may also write down a description of the cars involved including the year, make, model and color.
You should also write down any damaged or missing items resulting from the crash. Examples of this might be your cell phone, contents of a wallet or a purse, glasses, or any other items you may keep in your car. Another important thing to write is what you feel physically. document anything out of the ordinary as even small aches might be more painful in a day or two. If possible write down any relevant medical information for others involved in the accident.
In accidents more serious than a fender bender you will have to contact police so they can come to the location of the accident. When talking with police ask about the traffic accident report. When police are involved in the more serious crashes traffic accident reports are required to be filed. Even if you accident is minor you might want to file an accident report with the state. Insurance companies use these to file claims and if you’ve filed an accident report it can help to speed up the process of your insurance company. Car accident reports are public record so write down the names and badge numbers of the police assisting you, know where your accident report will filed, and be sure that you have a number to contact the precinct where the report will be filed.
If you have a camera you will want to take as many pictures of the crash as you can. You will want pictures of the damage to each vehicle and you should do your best to make the pictures show how the accident happened. You should write down the contact information of anyone who saw the crash so that they can be contacted if necessary later on. You will also want to take pictures of your injuries and date them. Keep taking pictures of your injuries while they heal and make sure to date them. These will be good to have when dealing with insurance companies.
After the Accident
Documentation is just as important after leaving the scene of crash. You should keep a record of any medical consults, and medical bills you receive. You will want to keep track of any work or school you miss due to the crash. This would include time you need to take for medical treatment. You should keep records of car repair estimates. Your insurance company might give a low estimate. If you think the estimate isn’t right then go get one from a certified mechanic. Don’t forget to keep all the paperwork and bills regarding repairs to your vehicle. In addition you should keep track of any out-of-pocket expenses relating to injuries from your accident. This includes heating pads, bandages, child-care bills, rental cars, taxis, or even cancellation of a trip you had planned to take.
Contacting a Lawyer
Having a personal injury attorney is a smart choice after an accident. Before signing any forms related to an accident you should get advice from a lawyer, especially if you do not understand what you are signing or are not comfortable signing something. Initial offers from insurance companies may be lower than you feel you deserve and you may feel that your insurance company isn’t providing you with what it should be. And if an accident is serious and you are taken to the hospital you won’t be able to document the incident at all. In these situations having a personal injury attorney is crucial. A personal injury attorney will communicate with your insurance provider and make sure that you get the amount of money that you deserve. A good personal attorney will investigate your accident and even evaluate your injuries to make sure that they get you the best settlement that you can get. Car accidents are very stressful and settling them can be an extensive and drawn out process. Having a personal injury attorney will bring you peace of mind and help to reduce the stress of dealing with insurance companies after an auto accident.