Car accidents are traumatic events. A single second of distraction can lead to a life-threatening crash. For the driver who caused the accident, that means paying for the other driver’s expensive medical bills. Even if no one was seriously injured in the crash, accidents can still cost thousands of dollars in repair bills.
And while almost anyone is entitled to accident compensation, whether that is from his/her own policy or another at-fault driver’s, there are several mistakes that drivers make and several things drivers forget to do after an accident that limit the total amount they can recover.
What do drivers need to do after a car accident?
After any accident, drivers should follow the following steps. These steps may sound simple, but skipping even one of them could result in the insurance company denying a legitimate claim. For the highest chance of success after a crash, all drivers should:
Stay Calm and Remain at the Scene: The most important thing to do after an accident is to remain calm and collected. Adrenaline will be running high for everyone involved. But drivers should never let their emotions get in the way of following the proper steps after a crash.
Most importantly, drivers should always remain at the scene of the crash, even if they believe no one was injured. If a driver leaves the scene of the crash before the police arrive, the driver could face hit-and-run charges.
Be Polite: No matter who may be at fault, both drivers should treat each other with respect and courtesy. However, drivers should never admit fault for the accident, even if they believe that they were to blame. Doing so could automatically make the driver legally liable for the accident.
Drivers should wait to apologize until after all the facts are known and the insurance companies have made their decisions.
Move to Safety: After any accident, drivers should move their vehicles out of the flow of traffic to avoid further collisions. Ideal locations include the shoulder of a highway or a nearby parking lot. Whenever possible drivers should turn on their hazard lights and set up emergency signage or flares, especially if the accident happened after dark or during bad weather.
Check for Injuries: Before doing anything else, drivers should check themselves, their passengers, and the occupants of the other vehicles for injuries.
If anyone is injured, drivers should call an ambulance immediately, even if they believe the injuries are minor.
Failing to seek the proper medical attention at the time of the crash could lead to complications down the road, and in some cases, insurance companies may refuse to pay for any medical bills because the delay could have worsened original injuries. The insurer might also try to claim the injuries are unrelated to the accident.
Call the Police: No matter the type of accident, drivers should always file a report with the police. Many insurance companies refuse to compensate drivers for accident claims unless there is a police report on file. Drivers should collect the responding officers’ names and badge numbers and ask for a copy of the accident report before they leave.
Gather Information & Photographs: Before drivers leave the scene of the accident, they will want to gather as much information as they can, including:
- The name, address, and phone number of the other driver
- The name, address, and phone number of any witnesses, including passengers
- The other person’s driver’s license number
- The other car’s make, model, color, and license plate number
- The other driver’s insurance information
- The location and time of the crash
- Photographs of the damage to the vehicles
Rather than trying to write all this information down, drivers can use their cell phones to take photographs of insurance documentation and driver’s licenses.
Speak with an Attorney: Any time a driver experiences pushback from an insurance company, such as the company refusing to pay for the damages or offering less money than is necessary for medical bills or car repairs, that driver should consider speaking with an attorney.
The attorneys of Tronfeld West & Durrett help drivers get the maximum recovery possible after a crash. Drivers can call 804-358-6741 to set up a free consultation.