An average of 6 million car accidents occur in the US annually, leaving more than 3 million people injured. While some only result in property damage, such as the car or premises, a substantial number leave people injured, while others are fatal.
When an accident occurs, dealing with it begins at the scene. And although not everyone will experience an accident first-hand, everyone should know what to do if it happens. So, here are the first seven steps to take immediately following a motor collision.
Individuals will never know when or if they’ll get in a car accident. So, it’s important to be prepared when getting into a motor vehicle, starting by knowing how to respond in case of any eventualities.
No matter how small the accident seems, it’s crucial to follow the steps discussed below to practice safety and protect the involved parties’ interests.
Never leave the scene of the accident, even if it is minor. Check whether anyone has been injured, and if an injury has occurred, call 911 or ask someone else to do so.
In case of serious injuries, do not attempt to move; wait for emergency personnel. If either party leaves the scene, they’ll run the risk of hit-and-run charges – even if they were not at fault.
Protect the scene to preserve evidence and prevent further accidents. Set up reflective emergency triangles or flares from the car’s emergency kit and switch on the hazard lights to alert other road users to slow down.
After ensuring that everyone involved is uninjured or the emergency services have been called in the case of injuries, contact the police to report the accident.
Whether a major collision or a fender-bender, ensure that the police are called. The simplest way to contact the authorities is by dialing 911. The responding officer will document the scene and fill out an accident report.
The police report will be necessary to claim compensation from the insurance company for any physical injuries and car damages resulting from the accident.
When the police arrive, make an accurate report by telling them exactly what happened. Do not misstate or guess any details; narrate what happened to the best of one’s ability.
The police report should include the following;
- Date of the accident
- Name of the affected individual(s)
- Injuries and treatments required (if there are any)
- A detailed narrative description of the accident, including the events in a sequence and the results
- Witness information, including names, addresses, and contacts
- Witness statements
- Other people involved
- Photographs and videos of the scene
The responding officer will use the information when filling out a report. This report will be needed during the claims process, so ensure it includes everything that happened accurately.
Take pictures of the vehicles and debris, ensuring to capture the damages clearly. Also, take photos of any injuries obtained, the scene itself, and any relevant evidence, such as the lights and intersection.
Obtain the other driver’s information and that of every other party involved in the accident, including the name, phone number, address, and driver’s license number. It is also essential to obtain the vehicle’s registration details, license plate, make, and model. If the car’s details don’t match the driver’s, ask for the owner’s details.
Next, get the insurance details, including the company’s contact information and the policy number. If there were witnesses, obtain their names, addresses, and contact information.
The pictures will provide evidence when claiming compensation for damages from the insurance company. Exchanging information with everyone involved ensures that all parties can be easily contacted if needed.
No matter how minor the accident seems, seek medical attention. Get checked by a healthcare professional to rule out any injuries that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Plus, minor injuries could be worse than initially assumed. In case of lifelong complications or health issues arising later in life (regarding the initial minor injuries incurred during the accident), there will be no compensation.
Visit a healthcare provider, get checked, and obtain all the health records, including x-rays, tests, doctor’s reports, medical bills, and future treatment costs, such as medical procedures, medications, and physical therapy. These records will help to prove the damages in the car accident claim.
Contact the insurance company and report the accident as soon as possible. Most insurance companies have time limits on the period that the accident can be reported and claimed.
Reporting the accident within the company’s time limits is crucial in order to be compensated for the damages. Luckily, insurance companies now provide online forms or apps for reporting.
Ensure documentation is retained, including the official police report, medical records, witness statements, and all information collected concerning the other parties involved. It’s crucial to retain these documents as evidence to prove liability and damages.
Most importantly, consulting an attorney is crucial to help protect the individual’s rights. Insurance companies try all they can to avoid liability, and settling a car accident claim can be challenging without legal representation.
Contact a personal injury attorney no matter what. They can offer legal advice and fight for a better chance of compensation.
If you’ve been injured in a motor collision, whether you were at fault or not, talk to an attorney with experience handling cases like yours. Michael B. Schulman & Associates provides the best legal representation for personal injuries – such as car accidents, offers legal advice and guidance, and will protect your rights.
If you or your loved one has been in an accident, contact Michael B. Schulman & Associates today for a free consultation.