Confusion, depression, frustration—these are just a few emotions you might feel after a car accident. It can seem impossible to remain calm, but your statements and actions following a collision will have a major impact on the success of your insurance claim.
All drivers should know what to do after an accident to give their claim a favorable chance of success. Here are a few tips to keep in mind after a collision:
1. Examine Yourself and Others for Injuries
The most important step after any accident is to seek medical attention. If you or anyone else was severely injured, request emergency medical assistance when you contact the police. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should still visit your doctor after the crash since medical documents may be essential evidence to support your insurance claim.
2. Take Photos of the Scene
Photos can tell the story of how the collision occurred and may serve as valuable evidence to help you prove negligence, liability, and damages. Be sure to enable your camera’s timestamp function and take pictures from multiple angles that show the positions of vehicles, injuries, property damage, skid marks, and traffic signs.
3. Call the Police
In most states, it is mandatory to call the police if an accident results in an injury, death, or significant property damage. But even if you’re involved in a minor fender bender, it’s a good idea to call law enforcement so an officer can create an accident report. If you find out later that the damage is more severe than you suspected or somebody was injured, you will need the police report to prove what actually happened.
4. Exchange Information with the Other Driver(s)
Be sure to exchange addresses, insurance information, names, phone numbers, email addresses, driver’s license numbers, and license plate numbers with all drivers involved. You will need this information to file your insurance claim.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible. There are strict deadlines to filing car insurance claims, and your agent can guide you through the steps to take following a collision.
6. Seek Medical Attention
As previously mentioned, you should undergo a medical evaluation after any accident in case you later decide to file a claim. Otherwise, the at-fault driver or insurance company may contend that your injuries did not happen in the accident or that your own negligence contributed to their severity.
Mistakes to Avoid after a Car Accident
While the tips above can put you in a favorable position to file a successful insurance claim, one simple mistake could be all it takes to reduce the amount of compensation you ultimately recover. Be sure to avoid these common mistakes after a collision:
- Posting information about your crash on social media;
- Accepting a settlement before you know the full extent of your injuries;
- Overlooking non-economic damages such as emotional distress and pain and suffering;
- Overlooking punitive damages, which may be available if the at-fault driver was drunk, on drugs, or texting when the collision occurred; or
- Not following your doctor’s treatment recommendations.
With the right approach, you should be able to recover fair compensation without engaging in a lengthy legal battle. If you have any other tips to share, please leave them in a comment below.