If you are injured in a car accident, you may be frightened not just of the pain and suffering you are facing, but also about who is going to pay all your medical bills and expenses. To make sure you are taken care of both legally and medically, what do you do after the dust settles and the reality kicks in?
What to Do After a Car Accident
First, stay calm and do not panic. Panicking will only make matters worse. You have to be calm and collected so you can effectively determine the extent of the damage and more importantly, check if there are major injuries that require immediate medical attention. You'll also want to exchange insurance details, so it is important to keep your car insurance information stored in your car’s glove compartment. This should include a pre-printed form that will allow you to provide any accident details and to make a sketch of the accident scene.
Once the accident has occurred, it is important to stay at the scene until the authorities have come and gone.
- Be sure to note the names of the officers that you spoke with.
- It is also very important to get the facts straight. Get the names, phone numbers, and addresses of everyone involved in the car accident. Get details for witnesses as well.
- Include a description of the vehicles involved, their license plate numbers, vehicle identification numbers, and insurance company information. License plate numbers are not enough, because most car insurance companies will keep records organized the make and model of the car and the VIN.
Getting medical care if you’ve sustained injuries is also a top priority, and you should go to the hospital or doctor as soon as practical after the accident.
- Take photographs of your injuries (cuts, bruises, casts, hospital room) and keep all medical records and bills.
- If possible, also take pictures of the accident scene showing the location, and the damage caused by the accident. These pictures along with your medical records will help your insurance company (or a jury in court if you decide to sue) document the damage you have faced
You are also required by your car insurance company to inform them if you've been involved in an accident. As soon as possible, call your insurer so you can immediately file an accident report. It is also advisable to get in touch with the insurer of the other driver involved in the accident. Both of your insurance companies can then begin their own investigation. If you prefer, you can allow the police offer at the scene of the accident to speak with your insurer in order to provide a more accurate account of the accident. You may be too upset or shaken up to provide accurate details of the incident, but calling your insurer right away will help save you a lot of time when processing your insurance claim.
If you’ve sustained serious injuries, hiring a lawyer after a car accident is a very a good idea. Having a lawyer will help you to ensure you receive a fair settlement offer, either from your own insurance company or from the insurance company of the person who hurt you.