Today, car accidents are more common than ever. With the number of cars on the road, the risk is ever-present. But what happens when you get in a car accident? What is the best course of action to take to protect you and your family? No matter how hard it is to imagine being involved in an accident, you should equip yourself with some guiding knowledge so that you can be prepared if it were to happen to you or someone you know. At Scott & Wallace, our team has prepared a handy “What to do after a Car Accident”checklist for your use. Please feel free to save it to your phone or print it for your glove box should you ever need it.
Car Accident Checklist
1) Stay Put!
One of the most common mistakes people make is to hastily exchange information with the other driver(s) and then leave the scene of the accident. Even if the accident seems minor, you need to remain calm and stay at the scene. Too many times, incorrect or incomplete information is exchanged between drivers following an accident and this can hinder an insurance claim later.
2) Call 911 – Request a Police Officer and/or an Ambulance
Once you have remained at the scene, call for professional assistance. You should ask that a police officer be sent to the scene of the accident to complete an investigation. This will ensure there is a police report documenting your involvement in the accident. If you or anyone else is injured after a car accident, you should call 911 and request an ambulance. Even though the injuries may seem minor in the moment, we recommend seeking immediate medical attention if you have even minor symptoms. Remember your adrenaline will be flowing and may be masking a more serious injury! If you are able to drive yourself, you should seek emergency medical care at a hospital emergency room, an urgent care facility, or with your primary physician if you can get an appointment the same day. In addition to the obvious concern for your health and well-being, it is important for a doctor to document any injuries or symptoms you may have immediately following the accident.
3) Take photos and Gather Information
Most smartphones have high quality image cameras. If physically able, take photos at the scene of the crash can be invaluable. These photos will show the type of impact involved and will also show how the vehicles impacted each other. This can be important when proving the cause of your injuries to an insurance company and, at times, in proving which driver was at fault for an accident. Additionally, take pictures of the accident scene and the surrounding area. These may include photos of street signs, landmarks, lanes of travel, an intersection, speed limit signs or other traffic control signs, surrounding obstacles (i.e. construction equipment or zones), and existing street conditions like rain, ice or snow. Photos are worth a thousand words!
While the police will gather information from the drivers and witnesses on the scene, it’s important to do your own investigation as well. We recommend getting the names, phone numbers, and addresses of all potential witnesses. Many times a person will come up to the drivers and check on their well-being upon witnessing an accident and then leave the scene after 911 has been called but before law enforcement arrives. Make sure to get that witness’s name and a good working phone number. If you don’t and that person does not remain at the scene, it may impossible to figure out who that critical witness was after the fact.
Also, writing down the license plate number of the other car involved is helpful. If may help find additional sources of insurance later.
4) Call Scott & Wallace NOT an Insurance Company
The disruption to your daily life and the associated confusion about the claims process following an accident will be felt immediately. Therefore, you should always speak to a lawyer after an accident. Lawyers are ethically bound to protect your best interest and to give you sound legal advice. Insurance adjusters are charged with protecting the insurance company and its shareholders, which means the main component of their job is to minimize what the insurance company has to pay in the event a car accident claim is presented.
So the last thing you should do, is contact Scott and Wallace. Our lawyers are ready to help you as soon as you contact us!
Being involved in a car accident is a sudden and shocking experience. If you ever find yourself involved in one, try and keep your calm and follow this “What to do after a Car Accident”checklist. And remember, when professional help is required, don’t hesitate to give Scott & Wallace a call. Protecting you and your family is what we do best!