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What to Do After a Car Accident

What to Do After a Car Accident - Car Crash
Steve Thompson Headshot
Steve Thompson
July 1, 2022

Even though no one plans on being in a car accident, it's important to know what to do afterward. You should not discuss who caused the accident at the scene. And remember that panicking will only make the situation worse, so try to remain calm. Here are essential steps to take following a car accident.

1. Move to Safety

Check to see if there are any injuries to you, your passengers, or others. It's crucial to focus on serious injuries first. For minor accidents, it's best to move the cars away from traffic and clear debris, if possible. Turn on the hazard lights and utilize flares if you have them.

When accidents are more serious, it is often necessary to wait to move the vehicles until help arrives. Do not move a seriously wounded victim because it can make their injuries worse. An exception may be to move a victim out of immediate danger. Keep your hazard lights on until your vehicle is towed away or you are done talking with police and witnesses. Ask witnesses who saw the incident to remain on the scene to tell the police what they saw.

2. Call 911 and Get a Police Report

Woman calling 911 after a crash

If the accident appears to be serious with injuries, call 911 immediately. State laws require you to report an accident to the police if the accident exceeds a certain threshold of property damage ($750 in Nevada)  or involves injuries. Calling the police or highway patrol is essential so that officers can complete an official report on injuries and property damage. To be prepared for future minor accidents, have the police phone number for non-emergencies in your phone's list of contacts.

Reporting an accident to police officers will help bring facts together about the scene of the accident and the nature of the collision. When the police arrive parties involved in the crash may need to show proof of auto insurance.

3. Exchange Contact Information

You may have to wait several minutes after calling 911 to see help arrive at the scene. An essential step to take after a car accident is to meet with the other driver and avoid discussing who was at fault for the accident. The fault will be determined by the drivers’ insurance companies or eventually by a court. You should remain calm and share accurate up-to-date contact information.

Be sure to give your full name and the best way to reach you, along with insurance information such as provider and policy number. Other details to share include your driver's license number and license plate number and the location of the accident.

In the process of exchanging information with the other driver, be aware of your rights. You should not apologize for anything relating to the accident until the facts are clearly known by the insurance providers. Even though all drivers are required by state law to carry auto insurance, some drivers still don't carry the proper insurance. If this is the case, make sure you at least get the driver's basic contact information, driver's license number, and license plate number.

4. Gather Evidence

Man taking photos of the crash

It's important to document the accident in various ways, such as with notes, videos, and photos. Be sure to take numerous pictures from various angles that show not only the vehicles, but also the entire intersection, any skid marks, and any other important landmarks. You can share this evidence during your car accident consultation. Find out if there are any witnesses who can give an objective account of what happened. It's also helpful to get the names and badge numbers of officers who show up at the accident scene.

5. Notify Your Insurance Company

After you have reported the accident to authorities, call your insurance company and let them know what happened. It helps to have a mobile app that lets you connect quickly with your insurance agent. Let your insurance provider know about the damage, injuries, and whether or not you intend to file a claim.

The insurance companies involved will look at the evidence and then determine who was at fault. The insurer of the at-fault driver will pay for the damage to your vehicle and the medical bills of the victims unless the driver does not have insurance. If that's the case, you may still be covered by your own comprehensive auto insurance plan or by carrying uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

Each state sets its own requirements related to auto accidents and coverage. In some states with no-fault parameters, drivers use personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage pays for funeral expenses and lost wages in addition to medical expenses. Be aware that failing to report an accident to your insurance company in a timely manner could be a reason for your claim to be denied.

6. Get Your Car Fixed

Car being repaired

If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, you will need to take it to a repair shop to get an estimate. Any type of damage that affects the safety of the drivers and passengers should be repaired as soon as possible. In some cases, a severely damaged car is better scrapped and replaced than getting repaired if costs are excessive. But if your vehicle is worth fixing, get about three different auto repair estimates.

The decision to get the car repaired right away should be based on the degree of damage. For minor repair issues, you may want to wait until you get your settlement. Damage affecting tires, mechanical devices, and safety features should be fixed immediately.

7. Talk with an Attorney 

In the event, your insurance company rejects your claim, or they do not offer you enough to compensate you for your injuries, you can still try to recover losses by taking the at-fault driver to court. While most cases are settled out of court, some cases can lead to court settlements that pay for damages beyond insurance coverage limits. A skilled attorney can guide you through the process.

Working with an experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorney will help you recover the maximum possible compensation. A reputable attorney can help you gain an edge on handling the case properly. 

Conclusion

One of the most important things to remember about car accidents is to stay calm and try to think rationally. Understanding what to do after a car accident before it happens will prepare you for the worst-case scenario. If you are involved in a car accident, be sure to discuss the situation with an experienced legal professional like Sandra Robertson who specializes in auto accidents and can help you win the maximum possible compensation from insurance companies.