10 Steps to take after you’re in an accident
What should you do if you’ve been involved in a car accident? Hopefully, this hasn’t just happened! It may be worth printing this list off and keeping it in your glove compartment. If the worst does happen, you’ll have bigger things on your mind than Googling answers.
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident.
Whether you were a driver, a passenger or merely a witness, wait until the police have been called and someone official has taken your name before leaving. This is especially important if you were driving one of the vehicles involved!
- Make sure everyone is OK.
Your first priority should be finding out if anyone is injured, and providing first aid for anyone who needs it. Make sure to call an ambulance if needed!
- Call the police.
If the accident resulted in a significant amount of property damage or any physical injury or death, you must call the police right away. Make sure you ask them to file a report, and note the names and badge numbers of the officers who arrive.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s).
You need to write down the following information for every other driver involved in the accident, and they should ask the same from you.
• Full name
• Phone number(s)
• Driver’s license number
• License plate number
• Insurance company name and number
You should also try to get the name, address and phone number of any passengers as well.
- Look for witnesses
If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their information (if they are willing to give it), and talk to them about what they saw. Also ask if there have been other accidents at the same spot.
- Talk to your insurance company
Tell them exactly what happened, and follow their advice. Lying to them could invalidate your coverage.
- Take a LOT of pictures.
Take photos of not just the damage to your own vehicle and property, but that of the other vehicles as well. Having recent pictures of your car before the accident will be of great help too, but you can’t go ‘back in time’ to get them.
- Record the details of any medical treatment you undergo.
Write down which doctors, physical therapists and other medical professionals you see, who made any referrals, and what treatments, medications and procedures they prescribed. Get copies of all medical reports and bills. Also, note how your injuries affect your daily life, and any work or activities you miss because of the accident.
- Have your damages evaluated.
Your insurance company should be willing to perform a damage evaluation. If you are unhappy with the results, you can get independent evaluations and quotes – you may want to get 2. Consider mediation or legal action if your valuations and the insurer’s can’t be reconciled.
- Take care when discussing the accident.
It may be best if you only speak about the incident with your lawyer, your insurer and the police. Do not talk to another driver’s lawyer or a representative of their insurance company without your insurer and/or lawyer being involved (and preferably present). If contacted by them, politely refer them to your lawyer or insurer.