We all hope that we or our loved ones will never be in a serious auto accident, but unfortunately the odds are stacked against us and most drivers will be in some sort of accident while driving at some point in their lives.
Whether you are the one at fault or not and whether you are the driver or passenger, it is important to know what to do after any accident, no matter how big or small it may seem to be at the time.
Here are ten things you must do immediately after you are in an auto accident in order to obey the law and protect yourself in the aftermath:
1.STOP- NEVER DRIVE OFF. You must never drive away from the scene of an accident, whether you are at fault or not, even if it is just a minor fender bender type of accident.
If you leave the scene of an auto accident and it turns out to be a more serious accident or there are injuries sustained by the other driver, you will be charged with a hit and run which can bring heavy fines and jail time! So, never just drive off after you are in an accident.
2. PROTECT THE SCENE. You need to make sure you notify other drivers somehow that there has been an accident so other drivers do not wreck when they come up upon you.
Also, make sure no one messes with the scene, removes anything, or moves the vehicles until the police can arrive and take care of the scene.
You do not want evidence getting lost or messed up before officials can take a look at what happened. It is best to get out of your vehicles due to the risk of fire but you need to be able to get to a safe place where passing cars and other hazards are not a threat to your safety.
3. NOTIFY THE POLICE. Even when no serious injuries have been sustained or no significant damage has been caused, it is a good idea to call the police.
You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company so you can get any damage repaired and so any medical expenses that creep up down the road in connection to the accident will be covered.
The vehicles involved in the accident can be moved if they are posing a major threat to other drivers but photos should be taken before anything is moved!
4. MAKE AN ACCURATE RECORD. When the police arrive, make sure you tell law enforcement officials everything you know and everything that happened to the best of your abilities.
If you do not know certain facts, admit as much, never make something up. Do not speculate, guess or intentionally misstate any of the facts.
When asked if you are hurt and there is no obvious injury, tell them you are not sure if you are hurt or not rather than saying no.
By answering a definitive no, you could make it harder to get medical expenses covered down the road if needed. Immediately after an accident, adrenaline is pumping through your body and this can make it hard to detect pain.
Often times the extent of injuries are not known for a few days following an accident- especially a minor one.
5. TAKE PICTURES IF POSSIBLE. If you happen to have a camera or your cell phone has a camera use it to take photos of the accident scene.
Take photos of the vehicles, debris field, and any surrounding areas that show skid marks or signs of the accident. If you have visible injuries, you should photograph them as well to document them for your medical records.
However, you should in no way interfere with the on-going police investigation. When police are working the scene, you should not be getting in their way to get photos.
If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident to document things as completely as you can.
6. EXCHANGE NECESSARY INFORMATION. Typically, the inspecting official obtains all of the necessary information from those who were involved in the accident or who might have witnessed it.
However, if the police do not respond to the accident, you should obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident, drivers and passengers alike.
Ask to see their license and insurance cards and copy the information down and allow them to do the same for you. If police respond to the accident, you will be given a police report number that can be used to obtain all information that is needed for records.
7. REPORT THE ACCIDENT. You need to contact your insurance company and report the accident as soon as possible.
Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation on your part to obtain eh details of the accident and the extent of the damage that has been sustained or caused.
Find out if you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage. Medpay insurance coverage often costs extra so you will want to be sure you take advantage of that coverage and use it.
In fact, if you have medpay coverage, all accident-related medical bills are required to be submitted in a timely fashion to your insurance company so your policy terms can be upheld.
8. ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. Often, injuries sustained during an automotive accident are not immediately obvious unless there has been severe trauma.
Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible- usually within 24 hours of the accident to make sure there are no hidden injuries to your spine, head, organs, muscles, or bones.
Even in accidents involving minor impact, you can sustain major trauma that can lead to major complications down the road if they are left untreated.
9. KEEP A FILE. Make sure you keep all your accident-related documents and information together.
All names, contacts, records, reports, medical bills, and anything else related to the accident and any proceedings and expenses related to that incident need to be kept in a safe place.
It is also a good idea to have multiple copies to store in various locations to protect against loss or damage.
10. PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. The single most important thing you need to do after an accident is call and speak to your attorney.
They are the ones best suited to assist you with your next steps f you are injured and they also can protect your rights and make sure valuable evidence for your case is not compromised or lost.
Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident and you must remember to never give any sort of statement to any insurance or medical provider before you consult with your attorney and get sound legal counsel on the matter.
Our team of experienced attorneys can advise you on any issues related to your auto accident.
Call us today for a free consultation to learn about what our team can do for you and how we will fight for you to get the compensation that you deserve after your accident.