It is estimated that over 6 million vehicular accidents occur each year in the US. Fortunately, the majority of these only involve property damages and minor injuries. Though a crash might be a scary and traumatic experience, it is essential to act quickly to make sure everything is safe. Below are a few things you should do after being involved in an automobile accident.
1. Stay at the Accident Scene and Calm Down
Whether you are the one who caused the crash or not, never leave the scene as it might lead to the suspension of your license or a serious criminal penalty. Depending on the state and the degree of injuries, the penalties for these cases might be 15-year imprisonment or fines ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.
You might be likely to feel guilty, nervous, shocked, scared, angry, or a mix of these emotions after an accident. The most important reaction is to calm down and take deep breaths. The calmer you are, the better you can deal with the problem.
2. Determine Injuries
Right after the accident, it is essential to determine any injuries occurring to you and other passengers immediately. If someone is in pain or becomes unconscious, avoid moving them to prevent any serious harm. Instead, leave them lying in place and call for an ambulance.
3. Call the Police
No matter if you caused the accident or not, it is advisable to call the police. By doing this, you will have an official record and protect yourself from other disputes or lawsuits in the future. Also, police can dispatch assistance in case of a serious car accident. In some states, police officers only provide a report when injuries are involved. In these cases, you can file a state car accident report instead, which is available at a police station.
4. Exchange Information
Get the phone numbers and names of all people involved in the car accident. Also, write down the license plate number, year, model, and make of each vehicle. Make sure to get all insurance information such as the company and policy number.
Be polite but don’t apologize, or you might admit legal liability for the case. Avoid admitting guilt because it might be not clear who was at fault in the case. Also, do not provide your social security number or let other drivers take a photo of your driver’s license. Of course, do not give out your home address for safety purposes.
5. Talk to the Witnesses
If there are any witnesses to the car accident, make sure to obtain their contact information and names. Ask them what occurred and write down everything. Ensure that they agree to allow your insurance agent or lawyer to contact or question them. This might be useful when other drivers dispute your account after the accident.
6. Take Pictures
Take photos of the damage to your vehicle and other cars involved in the accident. Also photograph any people involved and the accident site. This will be helpful to document damageswhen you file a claim to the insurance firm.
7. Submit an Insurance Claim
After the accident, it is essential to immediately report your case to the insurance company and provide them with sufficient information. This will accelerate the process of having your vehicle repaired and getting a rental car. Many drivers choose not to file a claim when they experience a small accident since it might increase their rates. However, it’s always a good idea to submit an insurance claim to protect yourself in case the other driver sues.
8. Consider Contacting a Lawyer.
If you are hurt or injured in the car accident, it is a good idea to contact an experienced lawyer like The Levin Firm. He or she will help you to maximize the compensation or reward from any responsible parties. Besides, the lawyer will also defend you if other drivers file a lawsuit even though you are not at fault.
Keep in mind to act quickly as any delays in discussing your case with a lawyer might jeopardize your chances of recovery. Many accident lawyers often work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they only charge you if you receive a settlement or compensation.