When it comes to car accidents and injuries, there are so many different things to keep in mind and record and take care of. Some of the processes are so complicated they’re overwhelming. But all of it becomes even harder and more stressful in the event of an actual car accident. Not only do you have to keep all of these different things straight, but you have to do it all in the moment while dealing with all of the stress and adrenaline of the accident itself. You also never know how easy or difficult it will be to communicate effectively with any other drivers involved. Here are a few steps to remember for dealing with an accident that will help you take on any challenges that arise if you ever have to go through this.
First Steps at the Scene
When a car accident happens, your first priority should automatically be to make sure you’re safe and get your vehicle to a safe location. Then make sure that the driver is also unharmed and can safely join you. There you and the driver of the other car can review the situation with ease. Of course, if the other driver hits you and then doesn’t stop to meet you on the side of the road, you should try to write down or get a picture of their license plate number so you can follow up with law enforcement.
Once you and the other driver are safe, you should call 911. That way anyone who’s hurt can get help, and you’ll be able to file a police report for your insurance. You and the other driver can survey the damage to the cars and exchange names, car information and insurance information. You shouldn’t admit fault in the accident. Law enforcement and insurance companies will decide whose fault it was. If the accident was the other driver’s fault and there seems to be little or no damage to your car, the other driver might ask you not to contact their insurance. However, no matter what you decide, you should still insist on taking down all of their information. Sometimes vehicular damage and bodily harm resulting from a wreck don’t become obvious until later.
At this point you should also take notes about the details of the accident and, if possible, take photos of both cars. You may need this for insurance and if you ever need to prove some of the circumstances of the accident. “Document everything,” says Jim Parrish, a Manassas car accident lawyer. “Make notes about the conversations you have and keep receipts from the tow truck or other expenses.”
Reporting an accident to your insurance, even if damages end up being minimal, can make your insurance bill go up. To avoid this, some responsible parties in car accidents where damages are minor try to resolve issues without going to insurance, even going so far as to pay for damages on the other car with their own personal money. This is a potentially risky way to deal with an accident, especially if you discover more damage later on.
Following-Up After the Wreck
Even if you feel fine right after a relatively minor car accident, you should still seriously consider going to visit the Emergency Room or see a doctor sometime soon after. It may take a few days for your body to feel the full effects of the wreck if there are any lasting effects, and it’s better to be safe and find out if anything is wrong soon. Keep track of these expenses and appointments too so that you have a full record of the accident and its associated effects.
If it turns out that the other driver was at fault, you might not have to report anything to your own insurance company. You will at least have to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance so that they can pay for damages through the other driver’s liability insurance. Once you’ve done that, preferably very soon after the accident, you’ll be able to sit back and wait for a short period. The other driver’s insurance provider should get in contact with you and will most likely send someone to survey your car and assess damages. That’s how they will decide how much money they will award you for repairs.
If the other driver in the accident is at fault but doesn’t have car insurance, your own insurance provider should be able to cover the costs, but they might only be willing to do so if you can prove that the other driver does not have insurance. This is one of the reasons why it can be so important to call 911 and keep a careful record of the other driver’s information. If you or another driver is caught by police driving without insurance, however, you may be subject to a fine up to $5,000.