Protecting Yourself After An Accident
Protecting Yourself After An Accident
We’ve heard this often enough -- accidents DO happen, even to the most careful of drivers. In the US, over six million vehicular accidents occur annually. Two out of every ten accidents, unfortunately, lead to fatalities. One in three accidents result in injury to the driver or passenger. Fortunately though, most accidents involve only damage to vehicles and not to its occupants.
It is upsetting enough to be involved in a vehicular accident. There might even be injuries either to yourself or to others. The most important thing you can do first and foremost is to stop, remain calm and check yourself for any injuries.
After this initial assessment, there are certain steps you need to do to protect yourself after the accident. Here are things you should do while at the scene of the accident and after:
1) STAY PUT. This is pretty basic - never drive away from or leave the scene of the accident until it’s appropriate to do so, even if it is just a fender bender. This is particularly important to remember where there was someone injured, or worse, killed. You can face serious criminal charges for being a hit-and-run driver.
2) SECURE THE SCENE. Be aware of what is happening around you, make sure other drivers can see you and your car. Prevent further accidents by keeping your flashers on or if you have them, setting up flares.
3) ASSESS THE SITUATION. Check for the details involved in the accident. If there are persons injured, offer assistance immediately.
4) CALL THE POLICE. Be it a minor or major accident, it is important to contact the police so they can perform an inspection and prepare a report. If you, or anyone else had been hurt, call for an ambulance immediately.
5) HAVE AN ACCURATE RECORD. Once police officers arrive, narrate exactly what happened. Make sure you state what you know - do not speculate or guess on any of the details. If you are asked about any injuries, it is better to say you are not sure. Oftentimes, injuries or pain from an accident do not manifest themselves immediately. Additionally, you should ensure that the account made by the other persons involved in the accident are accurate, as well.
6) GATHER DETAILS. Obtain the details associated with the accident. Get the names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. It is likewise helpful to obtain the names and contact information of the passengers, if any.
Since you might not be able to remember the numerous details, it would be helpful to keep a note and write down all details about the accident, any conversations you made and injuries you might have obtained. These would be helpful in case you need to take any legal actions.
7) TAKE PHOTOS. If it is safe to do so and if it does not interfere with any ongoing police investigation, take pictures of the vehicles involved and any visible damages, as well as pictures of the injured parties. The police will likely take pictures, too. However, it would be helpful if you can take your own so you can refer to them for any purpose, any time needed.
8) CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY. It is important to notify your insurance company promptly. You need to cooperate with your insurer by telling the truth about what happened and the extent of your injuries. Failing to make a report in a timely and accurate manner can cause problems down the line, including possible denial of coverage for the accident. You can obtain a copy of the police report to support your claim.
If you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage (known as “medpay”), you should take advantage of it. Your insurance company will require you to submit your accident-related medical bills - both for yourself, as well as, all the occupants in the vehicle.
9) SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. For extra precaution, it is advisable that you seek medical attention after you have been involved in an accident, even if you do not notice any injuries. Oftentimes, injuries manifest themselves a day or two after the vehicular accident. Even minor impacts can cause injuries to the spinal cord. It is also important to go for a check-up if you have lost consciousness or have become dazed following the collision, even if for a short time. This may point to a possible concussion or a head injury.
10) PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. Consult a lawyer. An attorney can help by making sure that you get the full benefits that you are entitled to under your insurance policy. It is important to obtain legal advice before providing statements to your insurance company. And most certainly, you should not, under any circumstances, sign any papers given to you by the other driver/drivers involved in the accident or their insurance company without seeking the advice of an attorney. Offers of early settlement exposes you to the risk of losing certain valuable rights and may even compromise your claim with your own insurance company.
Keep this list in a file on your phone or in the cloud so you have it in case of accident. And if you need your car fixed, remember us at American Auto Care.
Tags: Car accident, car insurance, injury, accident report, Automotive News, New Traffic Laws