In the United States, over six million car accidents occur every year. Luckily, most car accidents involve only property damage: damage to the vehicle as opposed to the occupants. However, one in three car crashes causes personal injury to the driver or passengers, and out of that, two out of every ten accidents cause fatal injuries. Regardless of how serious an accident is, knowing what to do after an accident can make a significant difference.
What should I do at the scene of the accident?
If you’re involved in an accident, here is what to do after a car accident.
Stop at the Scene
Immediately after the accident happens, if possible, stop at the scene of the accident. If possible, pull over to a safe area away from the other traffic. And if your car isn’t too damaged, turn on your hazard lights.
Legally, you’re required to stop when an accident occurs, thus this step is a must-do at the scene of an accident.
Check for Injuries
Check and make sure you and others around are okay. Call for an ambulance and help anyone injured at the scene of the accident. Don’t try to move anyone who is badly injured unless there’s a greater risk of leaving them unattended.
Call 911 or the Police
Call the 911 or the police and report the accident. If the accident is serious and you or other passengers have suffered injuries, call 911. Tell them the extent of injuries and the location of the accident.
Whether the accident is a minor fender-bender or a major collision; it’s crucial to call the police and report the accident. The responding officer will fill out an accident report and the necessary documents at the scene. If the police can’t come to the scene, go to the nearest police station and report the accident, according to the III. If you file a claim with your insurance company, they may ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claim process.
Gathering evidence is crucial, especially if you plan to file an insurance claim later. After calling 911 and the police, then record evidence. The more information you gather, the stronger your claim will be. Record the name, contact number, address, and driver’s license number of all parties involved in the accident. Also, record information about the cars involved in the accident, including their registration number, color, and model.
Further, record information about witnesses who saw the accident. Ask for their name and phone number. They may come in handy later.
Using your smartphone, take photographic evidence. Take photos of the cars involved in the crash and the scene of the accident before conditions change. Take a photo of the damage to your vehicle; this may be helpful when filing an auto insurance claim.
Note Things at the Scene of the Accident
Note if there are cameras that may have recorded the crash. Video evidence of the crash scene is very helpful in proving insurance claims. Further, note the weather and the conditions of the road and take photos if there are any dangerous hazards, such as oil spills, which may have caused the accident.
Here’s a list of things to record about the car accident or collision:
- Date and time of the car accident or collision
- Address of the accident or collision, or the approximate address
- The road where the accident occurred and the nearest cross street
- The direction you were traveling to
- The direction the other car was moving in
- Take pictures from different angles or sketch a diagram of the accident scene
- Note what happened (As soon as you can note down your account of what happened, or use your smartphone to record yourself telling all the details for your records. It’s easy to forget the details after the shock of the accident, so recording yourself talking about the accident can be helpful.)
- Note the driving conditions, the weather, and the visibility
- Note witnesses’ names and contact information
- Note the name, badge number, and contact information of the police officers who came to the scene of the accident.
Don’t Leave the Scene
Don’t leave the scene of the automobile accident, even if you collide with something like a pole or an unattended vehicle. If you hit an unattended vehicle, wait until the owner of the car arrives. If you can’t wait, then leave a note with your name and contact information.
Call Your Insurer
After recording all the details about the auto accident, call your insurance company and notify them about the accident. Answer all their questions and provide them with the details you gathered. Be truthful and don’t misrepresent the facts. Lying to your insurer will only make your insurance claim weak. Remember, if the details you provide don’t match with those gathered by the insurance agent, the insurance company will reject your claim . Seek legal advice from an experienced car accident attorney if you’re unsure about what to say to the insurance company when filing a claim.
When communicating with third party insurance companies third party claim:
- Don’t agree to provide a recorded statement. Direct all communication from the insurance company to your lawyer.
- Never discuss your case with anyone else except your attorney and close family members.
- Don’t give them your medical records. You and your lawyer will collect all your medical expenses and records and give them to the insurance company when necessary.
- Never sign a medical release giving the insurance company authority to access all your medical records.
Do Not Apologize or Accept Fault
At the scene of the crash or collision, with emotions running high, you may feel concerned about the other party and think the accident was your fault. Don’t let your emotions control your actions. Stay strong and don’t accept it was your fault, even if it’s obvious that your actions caused the accident. Don’t discuss the accident or collision with any parties involved.
Every car accident is unique, so you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The insurance company won’t wait to start its lawsuit against you, so don’t wait either.
What are my Property Damage Rights?
If you have been involved in an auto accident, you may seek compensation from the at-fault driver for damage to your car, lost personal belongings, and more.
Car-related property damage claims may include:
- The cost to repair your car
- Fair market value if your car is damaged completely
- Rental car expenses while your car is at the repair shop
- Replacement value of upgrades you made to your vehicle before the accident, including a stereo system or special wheel rims.
Also, you can claim for lost or damaged personal property, including:
- Jewelry, such as smartwatches
- Mobile phones
- Sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses
You may file a claim for any property you can prove was lost or damaged in the accident.
Why Should I Contact A Car Accident Lawyer?
After being injured in a car accident, you may not know what to do next and whether you should go forward on your own. You may need to file an insurance claim, however, if this is your first time, you might not know your rights or how to file an insurance claim. This is a reason to contact a car accident attorney. An experienced attorney can help you file an insurance claim.
Hiring a car accident lawyer helps to:
- Investigate the accident. Sometimes auto accidents are simple, other times they’re complex and you have to investigate to determine who caused the accident and who is liable to compensate you. You require evidence to prove why the accident happened, who caused it, and who is liable to pay for it. A car accident lawyer knows how to carry out an efficient, in-depth investigation to gather quality evidence to recover fair compensation.
- Handle the insurance claims process. While the insurance claims process is straightforward, sometimes insurers make things difficult and try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the law and the insurance policies. Having a knowledgeable lawyer representing you during the claims process prevents the insurer from violating your rights, delaying claims, or offering you low-ball settlements.
- Protect your rights. In a perfect world, you’d file an insurance claim and get fair compensation within weeks and any medical injuries. You’d be able to cover your medical expenses and lost wages immediately. Unfortunately, most car accidents result in less-than-ideal-circumstances. And you may be stuck fighting an insurer who is acting in bad faith, wrongfully denying your claim, or forcing you to accept a low-ball settlement. By hiring a lawyer who knows your rights, they can help you identify unfair circumstances and work to correct them right away.
- Represent you in court. Some car crashes can’t be resolved quickly through an insurance claim. You probably have to file a personal injury claim to recover the compensation you deserve. With no legal experience, this can be a challenging process. However, having an experienced car accident lawyer by your side can make things easier. They can handle the paperwork and administrative work for you. Also, they can attend all the court hearings on your behalf, so you only have to go to court for specific hearings or the trial.
- Fully Use the discovery process. Sometimes, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit because your car accident claim was denied, or you had no insurance. Also, you may need to file a lawsuit during the insurance claims process to use the discovery process. Discovery is the period during a lawsuit where both parties exchange documentation and information. It can help you advance your investigation into the accident and liability, helping you gain more evidence to support your claim.
Let Our Car Accident Attorneys Help You!
After sustaining injuries in a car crash, you may think you can handle everything by yourself. You might try to deal with the insurance company as best as you can. However, hiring an attorney can save time and money.
Having experienced Chicago accident attorneys by your side makes sure you aren’t taken advantage of. An attorney can guide you through the insurance claims or litigation process. It increases the chances of receiving an insurance settlement or court award, which is higher than if you worked without a lawyer.
To discuss how we can help you after a car accident, call us at (312) 300-2515 and set up a free consultation.