Serious car crashes happen every day on our streets. How you and those in your vehicle react—and the steps that you take both immediately following the crash and over the weeks ahead–can make a marked difference in your finances, the repair of your vehicle, your medical care and your overall recovery. Read on to discover some tips regarding what to do after a car crash.
First and foremost, if there is any possibility of injury, an ambulance should be called. Contact the police as soon as the crash happens. If you have passengers, check them for injuries. If possible, you or whomever is not injured should take down the license plate number of the other vehicle or vehicles involved immediately, before anyone has a chance to leave the scene.
If your phone is also a camera, take pictures right away of the scene—the position of all the vehicles and any debris or items around you that could have contributed to or affected the outcome of the crash. Some places require you to move your vehicle, but if safe, leave it where it is, so that the investigating officer can make a proper determination of how the crash happened. .
Do not speak to the other driver or any of their passengers about what happened or whose fault it is. It is ok to make sure everyone is safe it is also important for you to obtain insurance information from the other driver at this timeIf you give any statements about how the crash happened, do so only to police, but do not admit fault if you are not at fault. Make a quick sketch of the scene if you can and immediately write down all the details that you can remember. This is a good thing to do while you wait for the police to arrive—note road conditions, lighting, approximate speed of vehicles involved, any hazards or distractions on the road, etc. Be honest with the police when questioned.
Do not agree to settle the dispute privately, as this is only to bring another set of problems and more likely than not, you will regret this decision later. Reporting the accident to the police and speaking to legal counsel will ensure that everything is handled properly and that you should obtain justice after a car crash. If you need to report the crash to your insurance company, do not agree to provide a recorded statement without your attorney present. You need time to assess injuries and damages and speak to an attorney. Conditions can appear days or weeks after the crash.
Do not accept payment or sign any documents for the insurance company until you have spoken with an attorney. Most drivers are unaware of their full legal rights and the insurance companies can sometimes take advantage of this fact.
In the weeks following the crash, keep all receipts and note all activity pertaining to the crash. Keep written notes about medical treatments and concerns or problems and keep good records of any and all doctor visits and physical complaints.
Remember, always keep your auto insurance policy up to date and it is wise to carry uninsured motorist protection (UM), underinsured motorist protection (UIM) and personal injury protection (PIP). If you don’t know what these are, we will cover this in our next article. In the meantime, make sure you ask your insurance company for these coverages. If you have questions about auto insurance in our state or any of the above items, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm.