What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

Car Crash

Car accidents have become one of the most common insurance claims in the United States. Car accidents range in severity, but each collision can be dangerous. No matter the circumstances or results of a car accident, it can be a traumatic experience with both short-term and long-term repercussions. Initial disorientation can give way to prolonged injuries and effects. Listed below are some key steps to remember following a collision.

Remain Calm

The impact of an accident will cause a variety of physical sensations, ranging from adrenaline bursts to traumatic shock. Injuries can happen even at slower rates of speed. One of the most important steps for anyone involved in the accident is to remain calm afterwards.

Call Emergency Personnel

A car accident victim should try to review what just happened. If there are damages or injuries, they should call 9-1-1 immediately. Receiving medical attention should be a main priority. Injuries involving the neck are common with both front and rear-end collisions and must be addressed immediately. Any sudden movement after an injury can worsen a situation.

Do Not Admit Fault

It is very important following the accident to be mindful of what is said. Apologizing to the other driver can be used as admission of fault. On the contrary, engaging in an argument can escalate a situation and make fact finding more difficult.

Wait for the police and others to arrive before attempting to resolve what happened with the occupants of other involved vehicles. If an initial statement is made in haste, it can be challenging to retract it, and it may affect the decision made by insurance companies or any involved courts.

Safely Get Out of Traffic

If it is possible, those involved should remove their cars from the flow of traffic. This must be done safely and without risking further injury for anyone involved. Try to move the vehicles to the shoulder of the road or a side street if it is a one-lane road.

A victim should also stay with their vehicle until instructed otherwise by a police officer or paramedic arriving on the scene. If available, use flares, reflectors, or other warning devices to alert other drivers to the accident. Once the car is safely removed or stationary, put it in park, turn on the hazard lights, and turn off the engine. Leave any debris and car parts that have been dislodged or are part of the accident scene where they are after the car is moved; these can be used as evidence.

Collect and Document Information

If there is another driver involved, exchange insurance information and a phone number for future contact. If there are any witnesses, try to get their information since they will likely be sought out by the insurance companies. Write down the name and badge number of any responding police officers, especially if the accident happens outside of a driver’s home area or state.

Take as many pictures of the accident as possible, including any intersections or mitigating circumstances, like slick roads or faulty traffic signals. Some insurance companies have smart phone apps that allow the quick input of information relating to an accident. Include as much detail while taking notes, including time of day, weather conditions, traffic conditions, lighting, along with any potential warning signs ignored by the other driver. When speaking to the police officer or driver, avoid making any self-incriminating statements. Any admission of guilt can affect the turnout of a claim.

Call the Insurance Company

If there are injuries and property damage, call the insurance company as soon as possible. Even if the other driver is at fault, proactive engagement can help resolve the situation more quickly and with less aggravation. Those with smart phone apps can likely begin the process without having to call a number and potentially wait on hold. Copious notetaking will help provide as much information as possible for the first contact, which will give the claims adjustor and other insurance agents a head start on their work. Try to answer all the questions asked by the intake agent with as much detail as possible.

Engaging the insurance company early in the process will not only help move matters along, but it can also save extra time by arranging services. If the arriving police officers have not requested tow service from the scene, the insurance company can schedule one and direct the car to a preferred body shop. However, the policyholder often has final say as to who will repair the car. Any injuries that occurred will also be addressed by the insurance policies, pending upon which driver is at fault and how the specific policies apply. Some states do have no-fault coverage, which means each auto insurance covers the driver and any passengers in that car. If included in coverage, the intake agent will also help drivers arrange a car rental for a set period while the damaged car undergoes repairs. This rental usually comes with no out-of-pocket costs to the driver.

Stay Involved

Once the claim is filed, it is important to follow up and stay vigilant. It can be difficult with work and other obligations, but it is important to try to answer calls from claims adjustors and other insurance company representatives. Answer questions thoroughly, and make sure these representatives answer any outstanding questions.

Follow up with any law enforcement agents as well to resolve outstanding disputes. Return any missed calls promptly. Delays in responses to anyone involved with handling the claim can prolong the process and potentially cost more down the road.

Be aware of the deductible owed once repairs are complete. That will be paid at the repair shop and must be done to release the car. Most facilities will accept payment with cash, debit, or credit card. Checks may delay the return of the car.

Additionally, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer after a severe collision. A lawyer can help address questions and explain rights.

Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Help Injured Collision Victims

Even a minor car accident can create concerns, but it helps to have an experience partner on your side to work through the process. A Mount Laurel car accident lawyer at the Law Office of David S. Rochman can fight to protect your rights. Call us at 856-751-2345 or contact us online for a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.