If you have been involved in a car accident, there are a few steps you need to take to protect yourself and your interests.
Step 1 – Stop and determine the extent of damages/injuries
You must always stop if you have been involved in an accident, even if it is only a minor one. After you stop, you should check to see if there is anyone in need of urgent medical attention. If possible, do not move the vehicles until the police arrive but make sure you are in a safe place so there is no additional danger of further damage or injury.
Step 2 – Call the police and gather the facts
You should always call the police and get a police report of the accident. Make sure you inform the officer exactly what happened and do not guess or make speculations. You will also need to make sure the other driver’s statements are accurate. If you are able to, take pictures of the scene and any damages or injuries.
You should never admit fault or liability at the scene of the accident and you should also limit your conversations with the other driver. Even if you feel like you were responsible for the accident, it is important that you not admit fault.
Step 3 – Exchange information
Typically, the officer will collect the information of all parties involved in the accident. Make sure you have the name and contact information of the other driver. Also, make sure you have the other driver’s vehicle description, make, model, license plate number as well as their insurance information.
When exchanging information it is important to be cautious of your personal identifying information. For example, while you will need to share contact information, taking pictures of licenses is not necessary.
Step 4 – Notify your insurance company
As soon as you are able to, you will need to notify your insurance company of the accident. Even if the other driver suggests handling any damage without insurance, you should document that fact but still notify your insurance company. Once you have informed your insurance company of the accident, they will walk you through what needs to be done to file your claim properly.
Step 5 – Maintain your own records
Keep an accurate file that includes all of the relevant information and documents related to the accident. This file should include all of the facts and documentation of the accident, the name, badge number and contact information of the officer who filed the police report of the accident, information related to your insurance claim and any receipts related to medical expenses, rental car or other expenses incurred due to the accident.
Step 6 – Contact an attorney
Contacting an attorney after your accident is an important step. An experienced attorney can make sure your rights are protected and help you gather the evidence you might not otherwise think to do. An attorney can also guide you in your communications with your insurance company to ensure that you are fully compensated for your vehicle as well as receiving any medical treatment that you need following the accident.