When it comes to car accidents, there’s a broad spectrum of damage and the emotions that accompany it. From the bitter annoyance of your car getting bumped in a parking lot to the absolute turmoil of a more serious, life threatening accident. Where ever an accident falls on the spectrum, there is one emotion that can follow any accident: dread. In the weeks following a very minor incident in a crowded parking garage, I felt this dread. My driving became hyper aware, nervous that a possible accident was around ever corner. While this rapt attention is certainly appropriate, the dread only subsided when I recognized how to react when an accident does occur. In this post today, we’ll discuss what to do when you’re in an accident.
Keep in mind, every accident is different. Some steps apply more to certain types of car accidents than others. Think of each step as being prefaced with “as necessary.”
During a car accident, even the most minor ones, your adrenaline shoots up! It is hard to stay focused on getting the proper information from the other driver and assessing the situation. While this is not entirely a bad thing, as you’re often focusing on your and your passengers’ physical well-being, it can present an obstacle if you’re unable to exchange insurance information, call the police, or remain safe at the scene of the accident.
2. Call the police.
If there is significant property damage, bodily injury, or death, this step is absolutely crucial. Unfortunately, without a police report of the accident, the accident can become a he said/she said circumstance. Police officers can mitigate the confusion in these instances. Keep in mind, without a police report, it’s hard for the involved insurance carriers and attorneys to truly understand or prove what actually happened.
3. Assess Injuries.
When our clients choose the Katz team, there is one thing we always emphasize over everything else: get better! There is nothing more important than getting the medical treatment you need after an accident, both immediately and in the days and months afterwards.
Immediately following an accident, it is crucial to assess the injuries of all those involved. At times, you may be called upon to help administer first aid or request it yourself. In some circumstances, reacting quickly can be the difference between harm and heartbreak. As necessary, seek medical attention at the scene and proceed to the hospital as needed.
4. Exchange Information.
Don’t expect the other driver to volunteer their insurance information immediately. For a range of reasons, this step can be forgotten or ignored, but it is absolutely crucial. Do you best to gather their name, insurance provider, policy number, car make and model, and license plate number. Be courteous with the other driver, but don’t place blame on either party (e.g. “I’m so sorry I turned too early…”). Immediately following an accident, it is sometimes unclear what actually caused the accident and who was at fault. Don’t assume legal liability.
5. Gather witness contact information.
While it is generally the police officer’s responsibility to gather witness statements, don’t assume they will always do so. When the cirumstance allows, ask witnesses what they saw and request their contact information. This can always help if there is a question of liability.
6. Contact Insurance Providers
As soon as you can, report the incident to your auto insurance provider.
7. Call a Personal Injury Attorney.
Many, if not most, personal injury attorneys offer free consultations on your accident. At Katz, Stepp, Wright and Fleming, we seek to understand the nature of the accident as a whole, and for that reason, we will ask you questions regarding the accident and any injuries you or your passengers sustained. Keep in mind that it is in the interest of the insurance company to settle the claim quickly, at times without waiting for you to be treated sufficiently for your injuries. At our office, our job is to make sure you get the settlement you need to help you recover your losses and to reach maximum medical improvement.
Unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle of life, accidents happen. When they do, follow these steps as best you can and you’ll feel greater peace of mind in your time of stress and confusion.
If you have been in an accident, call us at 404-240-0400 for a free consultation.