Getting into a car accident can be terrifying and stressful. In the aftermath, it’s important to try to keep a level head and make the best decisions for yourself and your future. Here are six things you should do if you’ve been in an accident.
1. Report It To Authorities
You should always report an accident, even if it seems minor. Your insurance company will likely require a police report in order to cover damages, even if it’s just a fender bender. Often you don’t realize immediately what damage may have been done to your vehicle and sometimes injuries don’t make themselves known right away either. An official report of the accident will help immensely if your case ends up going to court.
2. Consult A Professional
It is important to get the perspective of a professional who understands the legal system and liability issues. Consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able to see if you have a case. They will be able to advise you on what your next steps should be, especially if you were not at fault in the accident. Protecting your interests should be your top priority and a lawyer can help you do so. You’ll want to make sure that you are able to cover the cost of repair or replacement of your vehicle, medical bills, and that you are reimbursed for your pain and suffering.
3. Get A Medical Check-Up
Even if you feel fine, you should still get a complete medical exam after an accident. Often injuries don’t show up immediately and you may feel the effects hours, days or even weeks later. Seeing a medical professional also provides you with documentation of any injuries and helps to show that the injuries were sustained in the accident.
4. Take Pictures
Be sure to fully document all damage to your vehicle. Although an insurance adjuster will likely also take photos, it is a good idea to take your own as soon as possible after your accident. Be sure to get pictures of every side of the vehicle as well as of any damage to the interior of your vehicle. If possible, you should also document your injuries. Be sure to take photos of any bruising that shows up that will show where your body was impacted.
5. Get As Much Information As Possible
Get all the information you are able to immediately after the accident. If you can, get the name of any involved parties and their insurance information as well as the names and contact information of any witnesses. Make note of the make and model of other involved vehicles also. As you go through the process after the accident, make sure to obtain copies of relevant police reports, document the names and contact information of health care providers, and make note of who you spoke with and when at any involved insurance companies. If you have time and a pen and paper at the scene, jot down any details of the weather, traffic or other things you see that may have contributed to the conditions.
6. Notify Your Insurance Company
It is imperative that you contact your insurance company as soon as you are able. The sooner your accident is documented, the sooner your insurance company can begin a claim. They can also assist in obtaining relevant information, police reports, and will remind you of some of the steps you need to complete. When you can, make sure to discuss your coverage with your insurance company so you can get a good idea of what will and won’t be covered under your policy.
It can be hard to focus on doing all the right things when you are upset and potentially injured. When you’ve just been in an accident, try to take a moment to think through your next steps. Following these tips will help you address many of the potential issues you may face in the future.