It’s easy to panic after an accident, but keeping a clear head and taking immediate precautions can help you down the road. Protect yourself by doing these seven things right after an accident.
Seven Actions to Take After an Accident:
1. Check for injuries and call an ambulance if necessary. The absolute first thing you should do is make sure everyone is ok – in your vehicle and in the other vehicle(s). Call 911 and wait for an ambulance if you’re in pain or feeling dizzy.
2. Notify the police, even if there aren’t any serious injuries. The police will file a report, which may be useful if you need to make an insurance claim and/or if the other party tries to bring a lawsuit against you. The police report is what’s typically used by the insurance companies in determining who was at fault in an accident. Without it, there could be a dispute as to who’s at fault. Police also collect information that one might not consider relevant when caught in a stressful situation like an auto accident.
3. Document the accident. While you wait for the police to arrive, use the time to take notes and pictures of the accident site and/or damage to the vehicles and even of any injuries you or your passengers have sustained. Ask a passenger or bystander if you’re too injured to do so. Pictures of the scene could be a great help in situations where a police report was not made. Simply remember when documenting that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is true whether your documenting the accident or the effects it has had on your life thereafter.
4. Exchange information. Share your insurance and contact information with the other driver and the police. It’s a good idea to get contact information for drivers, passengers and witnesses so you or your attorney can contact them in the future. Ask for the police report number so that you can obtain the official report later.
5. Call your insurance company. Contact your insurance shortly after the accident. Many policies require this reporting and your full cooperation as part of their policy coverage. If you have Medical Payments coverage this can help cover you and your passengers’ medical expenses, but you need to file a claim before you can take advantage of the coverage. Be cautious about describing your injuries while providing statements to an insurance company. You could feel fine the day of the accident but wake up the next day in pain. Therefore, it’s best to limit insurance company discussions to what occurred during the accident. This is so you can avoid misleading them into believing your injuries are nonexistent or minor. Remember that attorneys act as filter between you and the insurance companies.
6. See your doctor. It’s always a good idea to see your doctor after an accident, even if you feel okay. Sometimes, injuries aren’t immediately apparent, but they can cause long-lasting damage if left unchecked. Many people find that nagging pains can occur years after an accident due to untreated injuries. Untreated injuries lack the medical reports that are typically used to connect the accident as a cause of the pain and discomfort that’s suffered. A doctor’s report will help you if you need to file a claim for Medical Payments coverage or if you decide to sue for damages later.
7. Seek legal advice. One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to consult an attorney. An experienced personal injury or accident attorney can help protect your rights and make sure evidence is properly stored and managed. An attorney can advise on making a statement to the insurance company, recommend additional actions that reduce your exposure or may help you obtain compensation for damages and injuries that you’ve suffered as a result of the accident.
Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith has been helping accident victims throughout the State of Connecticut for more than 55 years. Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith focuses on personal injury claims, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and workers’ compensation, and complex litigation. For more information, visit VRSLaw.com or call (203) 800-8000.