9 Steps You Must Take If You’re in an Accident
You’ve just been in a car accident, which is a scary situation all around.
Even if the adrenaline rushing through your veins has slowed a bit, your mind may be racing and you find it difficult to concentrate. What do you do next? Do you file a claim? Call the police? Check on the other driver?
Here are the 9 steps you must take if you’ve been in a car accident:
Get off the Road Safely
If you can move your car and you aren’t seriously injured: Get yourself and your car off the road as quickly and safely as possible.
This could mean pulling onto the shoulder or into a nearby parking lot if your car is moveable. If you can’t move your car, get out of your car and get safely to the side of the road. For nighttime accidents, put out flares or cones if you have them in your car.
Just don’t go too far from the scene so you can be available and won’t be seen as possibly fleeing.
Stay on the Scene
Never leave the scene of the accident until you’re told it’s OK.
This is especially true if someone’s been injured or killed. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a serious crime that can land you in jail. Just stay at the scene and wait for police to arrive.
Check on All Drivers & Passengers
While you may feel fine, the other vehicle’s occupants may not.
Before you take a look at the damage done to your car, check in with the other driver and any passengers in either car. Get medical attention for anyone who needs it.
If someone is unconscious or complains of neck or back pain, do not move them until a qualified medical professional is on scene to assess their injuries. Only move a person who is unconscious or has neck or back pain if them staying where they are would pose a further danger to themselves or someone else.
Call the Police
Even if no one’s injured, a police report still needs to be filed. Most insurance companies won’t process a claim for medical bills or property damage without a police report in-hand.
Tell officers exactly what you know happened, without making guesses. If, when you get the police report, you see something that’s incorrect, call the officer to have it corrected.
Gather insurance information, license numbers, phone numbers, and license plate numbers from all drivers involved in the accident.
You will need this information when making a claim with your insurance company. If possible, take photos of all the information as well as writing it down, just in case you make a mistake or can’t read your writing.
Talk to Witnesses
If there’s anyone that saw your accident, talk to them and ask what they saw.
Be sure to get their names, phone numbers, and other contact information from each witness, as this information could be important to your insurance company. If there are witnesses who live near the accident scene, ask them if they’ve ever seen other accidents in the same spot.
Get Medical Treatment
Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s best to get checked out at a hospital or by your doctor soon after your accident.
Some injuries may not present themselves until a day or two later, especially whiplash and other muscle injuries. While you may not think your injury is related to your accident, it still should get checked by a professional.
When you get treatment, be sure to tell your provider you were recently in a car accident so they can log their notes for your records. This information becomes important if you file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Call Your Insurance Company
Now that everyone’s safe, the police have taken down your information, and you’ve gotten medical treatment, it’s time to begin the claims process.
Be honest with your insurance company and tell them the facts of what happened. If your insurance company later finds out you lied, it could invalidate your entire claim and get you kicked off your insurance, leaving you with the entire financial burden of repairs.
Keep up with Medical Treatment
If you’ve been recommended by your doctor to see a chiropractor, physical therapist, or specialist because of your injuries, don’t ignore this advice.
Your insurance company can stop paying on your claim if you fail to comply with your doctor’s orders.
And, while you’re undergoing all this treatment, keep records of every appointment. It’s best to dedicate a folder or notebook for your appointment cards, after-visit summaries, copies of treatment orders, and notes about your appointments. If you eventually decide to file a lawsuit, this information will be invaluable to your attorney.
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