The initial shock and aftermath of a car accident can be stressful as well as traumatic. Some can be minor and some can be fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents were responsible for 33,561 deaths in 2012. No matter the situation, it is helpful to know what steps need to be taken in order to resolve the accident as efficiently as possible. Here you will learn what to do immediately following your accident–as well as later on– and acquire some useful knowledge to help you avoid the worst case scenario.
Immediately After A Car Accident
Following your car accident, there are a few necessary steps you must take to ensure that the situation will be handled properly. First, pull over if possible into a safe place where you can then exchange information with the other driver. Be sure to gather all necessary information including the other driver’s name, address, phone number, email address, driver’s license number, insurance company contact information, and the policy number. It is vital to contact the police no matter the circumstance; if not, you can face additional fines for not complying appropriately with the law. Having the police present also helps establish liability and protects you from fraud (i.e. a negligent driver claiming he wasn’t at fault) and a police report will be nothing but beneficial down the road. As you wait for the police to arrive on the scene, it helps to document as much as possible: take photos of the damage to both vehicles, the general scene, and those involved. The more thorough, accurate, and complete the documentation and records are, the easier and quicker it will be to settle.
Remember: Do not admit fault or do as much as apologize to the other driver. Doing so can be used against you as it can be recognized as admitting blame for the accident.
After the Car Accident
Although it is customary for the driver at fault to file the insurance claim, it is highly suggested that you call the other driver’s insurance as well. Being at fault, the other driver may be reluctant to do so and may put it off, if he/she does it at all. Information pertaining to the insurance company should have been acquired at the time of the accident.
Suppose the driver is at fault in the car accident?
You may find your claim denied by the insurance company. Regardless of the police report, it is common practice for the insurance to stand behind its policyholder and they might have retold the story from their own point of view. Gathering evidence from the scene (including photographs, statements, and witnesses) will help you to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. In all scenarios, it is important to contact an attorney early on to avoid mistreatment by the other driver’s insurance company. Some insurance companies are notorious for using the 3 D’s – Delay, Deny and Defend, a stall tactic reported on by CNN’s Anderson Cooper in this video, to prevent you from receiving the compensation to which you are entitled.
And what if the car accident was your fault?
If you find yourself as the driver at fault in an accident, no worries. Filing a claim with your insurance does not necessarily mean that your rates will increase. Esurance states that before making any changes to your policy, insurance companies will usually review how severe the accident was, your past driving record, whether you were actually at fault or not, and what specific policy you have.
Other Options to Consider After a Car Accident
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: UM Coverage in most cases financially compensates the victim for usually only bodily injuries caused by a negligent driver. Having this insurance coverage is a good idea in case you find yourself in an accident with someone who does not have insurance.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): PIP is offered in some states and will compensate people for lost wages, medical expenses, as well as other damages following a car accident. Without giving regard to who is at fault, PIP will ensure that you are covered in the situation.
Things to Remember if You’re in a Car Accident
- Make sure that you are always aware of your insurance policy and what it covers.
- If you are not at all at fault for the accident, the other driver’s insurance should cover you and vice versa.
- If at fault, there is still a chance for your premium to have a hefty increase. After being at fault for multiple accidents, your insurance company may deny the continuation of your coverage.
- DO NOT: leave the scene following a car accident, forget to contact the police, forget to have proper documentation, or neglect affected health afterwards.
For a comprehensive check list of what to do, be sure to visit our What to do after an accident page.