Car accidents can be tricky to navigate in the hours and days after the fact. You’ll likely be asked a series of the same questions from police officers, friends, medical providers, insurance company representatives, and others. If you have never been in an accident before, however, you may not know what to do or what to say during all of the commotion. Here is an overview for helping you navigate the process after a car accident:
Directly After an Accident
Focus on medical attention first. Call 911 for help, and do not try to move if you have been seriously injured. If you are able, see if others in the accident have been hurt, and do what you can to help.
Call the police. If the police have not arrived on the scene, contact them to report a motor vehicle accident. Even if no one appears injured, go ahead and file a police report. Cooperate fully with officers who arrive on the scene.
Take a moment to collect yourself. Emotions tend to run high after a car accident. When you have a moment, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and feel more focused when talking about the accident.
Collect the right information. Get as much information from the scene of the accident as possible. Take photos of vehicle damage, road conditions, weather, injuries, license plate numbers, and any property damage inside your vehicle. Get the contact and insurance information for other drivers involved in the accident, and write down the names of all medical responders and police officers/location information.
Focus on what you know. If you are uncertain about what exactly caused the accident, it is okay. Tell officers only the facts so they can write and file an accurate police report. If 911 or police officers were not at the scene of the accident, you will need to call the local police department and file a report within 10 days of the accident. You can and should obtain a copy of the report as soon as it is available.
Contacting Your Insurance Provider
You will need to contact your car insurance provider as soon as possible after an accident. Tell the insurance representative information regarding location, date, time, names, and other identifying information about the people involved in the accident. Avoid telling the representative any details about your injuries or how you think the accident happened.
The information you provide during this initial call may be considered a recorded statement, and anything you say (whether you believe you were or were not at fault) can be used against you later on. Let the representative know you are willing to discuss the case further once an investigation has been completed.
Filing a Claim
You may want to speak with an experienced car accident attorney after you have contacted your insurance provider. If you were not at fault in an accident and were injured, you may soon be contacted by the other party’s insurance provider. They may be seeking additional information or try to offer you a settlement amount. In most cases, you may want to evaluate a settlement offer with a legal representative first.
You may not have a clear understanding of the full extent of your injuries in the days and weeks following an accident, and an early settlement may not provide enough coverage to address your needs. Consider consulting an attorney regarding your accident. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate the details surrounding your accident and provide knowledgeable assistance when you negotiate with insurance adjustors. A skilled personal injury lawyer can determine if you need to take further legal action to get the kind of compensation you deserve.