In the initial moments following a car crash, confusion reigns as you process the unexpected events. Even if the accident was a fender bender that did not result in serious injuries, you still might be shaken up over the sudden collision.
However, clear-headed and specific steps involving an insurance claim must be taken to protect yourself legally.
Get everyone to a safe place
If you were not alone in your vehicle, ensure that all passengers are okay and not suffering from serious injuries. From there, get yourself and everyone out of the car. In minor accidents, you will want to get to a safe place by moving the vehicle to the side of the road. More serious collisions resulting in injuries will require leaving the car where it is, using hazard lights to warn oncoming vehicles.
Contact law enforcement for help. Once an officer arrives, document the name and badge number. Once the accident report is complete, secure a copy of it for the insurance adjuster.
Gather information and evidence
The prominence of cell phones allows drivers to document the accident with pictures, video, and voice memos. The position of the cars relative to the street is vital evidence. Any skid marks or property damage should be included as well.
Request contact information and the license number of the other driver involved in the crash. Should names not match registration or insurance documents, ask about the individual’s relationship to the vehicle’s owner.
Talk to witnesses
If witnesses saw the accident, try to get their account of the crash and their contact information. Should the other driver ask you about who was responsible, say nothing that could potentially incriminate you and undermine your insurance claim. That includes making financial deals outside of the insurance process.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor
Contacting your insurance company is paramount, but it is not the final step. Seeing a doctor, regardless of the severity of the accident, is essential as well to ensure that you did not suffer injuries. If your physician diagnosis an injury, the data can be useful in an insurance claim or potential personal injury lawsuit.
Your well-being and the health of any passengers come first. Holding the responsible party accountable for any negligent acts could be an important next step.