There’s one daily activity that most people take part in despite the fact it could be deadly. Driving in vehicles is a convenience most people can’t pass up, and most people never think twice about it. But with more than 1 billion vehicles on the road today, car accidents are a common occurrence.
A car accident can happen to anyone at any time even if they’re a cautious driver. Even celebrities like Keanu Reeves have been touched by the tragedy of a car accident. When it happens, few people are prepared to get through the ordeal. The steps you take after a crash can mean the difference between getting the help you deserve and living with the repercussions of someone else’s actions.
If you get into a car accident, experts recommend that you follow the steps below.
Step 1. Call the Police
Anytime you are involved in a traffic collision the police should be called immediately. An officer can help keep things civil and he or she will also create a police report. This report can be used as evidence when you file claims.
Step 2. Get Information at the Scene
You (or someone you’re with if you need medical treatment) should gather critical information at the scene. You’ll need to get:
- The other driver’s name and phone number
- The other driver’s insurance information, including policy number
- The license plate number of the other vehicle
- The make, model, and color of the other vehicle
- Pictures of the scene
All of this information is needed to ensure the other driver doesn’t try to forgo their responsibility or lie about the events that occurred. If there are witnesses get their brief statement, name and contact information.
Step 3. Hire a Local Attorney
You can make the rest of the process much easier on yourself by hiring a local car accident lawyer if someone sustained an injury or there was significant property damage. Traffic regulations vary by county, which is why it’s important to have a local attorney that understands the laws.
Even if the insurance company offers compensation it may not be enough to cover all the damage and long-term expenses. Your lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim against the other driver so you receive adequate compensation based on the real costs you’ll incur.
Step 4. Contact Your Auto Insurance Agent
Your insurance company will also need to be involved after a car accident. Contact your agent to let them know what occurred and get directions on how to file a claim. Once the claim is received the insurance companies of both drivers will investigate. Hopefully, you have the police report handy to back up your claims.
The one thing you should never do is lie to your insurance company about what occurred. If the insurance company believes you aren’t being truthful they could deny your coverage. Your attorney can help during this process and should be in contact with your auto insurance agent.
Step 5. Keep Track of Medical Records
If you or one of your passengers sustained injuries medical records will be needed to substantiate injury claims. Be very diligent about keeping track of these records. You’ll want to track:
- Names of doctors
- Names of health professionals
- Which treatments are recommended
- Which treatments are received
- Date of treatments
You’ll also need to document every one of your medical bills and keep a record of how the injuries impact your quality of life. Tracking things like missed workdays, changes in daily routine and affects on your family can help justify pain and suffering compensation.
Step 6. Follow the Doctor’s Orders
It’s important for your own health to follow the doctor’s orders to a T after a car accident. There are also legal reasons for doing so. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to deny compensation by arguing that you didn’t follow the doctor’s order and therefore you made an injury or made it worse.
The Insurance Information Institute also recommends that drivers prepare themselves long before an accident occurs. Make sure you have adequate auto insurance coverage, keep pertinent documents (proof of insurance, vehicle registration, etc.) in the car and have emergency supplies like road flares on hand.