Although thousands of car accidents occur every day, it is still not common for most people. Generally, drivers don’t know how to proceed after they are in a crash. It is vital to know the proper steps to take if you are involved in an accident so that you don’t make any missteps that could impact your ability to get the compensation you need to pay for repairs, medical bills, and lost income. No one wants to think about being in a car accident, but it is important to be prepared and know the appropriate steps to take to protect yourself and your assets.
Some things may seem like common sense, but car accidents typically leave those involved in shock, and it is easy to forget what to do as soon as an accident occurs. Some of the most important first steps include:
- Stop your vehicle. Even if the collision simply feels like a “bump” and you think no damage was done, you should always pull over immediately at a safe location to ensure that no one was injured and provide your information to the other driver.
- Assess damage. Once you are stopped and safe, check to make sure the other driver is also safe, and then assess any damage that either vehicle has suffered and any injuries that individuals involved may have sustained, no matter how minor.
- First aid. If anyone is severely injured in the accident, it is imperative to provide aid to the best of your ability. If you are not trained in first aid or CPR, call 911, and the operator will be able to advise you on the proper steps to take until help arrives.
- Exchange information and wait for the police. You should always exchange your insurance and contact information with the other driver. If the police have been dispatched, wait for them to arrive, and obtain a copy of the police report for your records.
After the initial steps are taken, many drivers make critical mistakes before leaving the accident scene. Consider these things you should NOT do.
- Forget to take pictures. It is easy to forget to snap photos on your phone right there at the scene, but these photos can be vital in your case with the insurance company, especially if it goes to the courts. Take photos of any damage to your car, the other driver’s car, damage to property, the entire scene, and any injuries sustained.
- Wait to get medical attention. Even if you feel fine after the accident, you should always seek immediate medical care. You may have underlying or internal injuries, or you may feel a false sense of well-being due to the adrenaline rush. A proper check-up can identify injuries you may not have noticed and will help to support your claims for compensation.
- Talk to the insurance company. You should never speak with an insurance adjuster before discussing your accident with an attorney. Insurance companies employ highly-skilled adjusters whose aim is to find any reason possible to deny a claim or pay out the least amount possible. They know how to elicit responses that they can use to their benefit while making it seem like they are just making conversation. In some cases, they are even able to turn the tables on accident victims and make it appear as though they are the ones at fault. They will try to get you to talk to them before you contact an attorney, and they will take advantage of the situation in any way they can, so be very cautious.
- Post on social media. Not only should you avoid posting anything about your accident on social media, but you should avoid posting altogether in the weeks that follow. Insurance companies can use these posts against you when assessing your claim. Even something as simple as photos of you out to dinner with a friend can give them a reason to deny the full compensation you deserve.
If you should find yourself in a conversation with an insurance adjuster before, or even after, you speak with an attorney, don’t feel overwhelmed, but be sure to follow a few guidelines. For one, never admit fault, even partial fault, for the accident. Even if you feel that you were at fault, your attorney will investigate to determine whether you were. Also, be sure to stick to the facts; never offer opinions on any aspect of the accident. Lastly, do not make small talk, and don’t engage the adjuster if they attempt to do so. This is one of their strategies to get you to say something that you will regret.
Call an Attorney as Soon as Possible
Once you contact a knowledgeable attorney, they will take the burden of dealing with the insurance companies off of your hands. The respected lawyers at The Law Firm of Black & DePaoli, PC are here for you. Call us today at (916) 536-7586.