What to do After an Accident. Car accidents can be stressful, especially if you have never been involved in one before. If you were involved in your first car accident, you may feel overwhelmed and wonder what to do next. Do you call the police? What type of information should you obtain from the other driver? How and when do you handle your insurance claims?
Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing automobile accident victims. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a car accident lawsuit.
The police should be called immediately if anyone was injured or if there was significant damage to the vehicles. If you are not sure whether your situation warrants the police, it is best to call them anyway to be on the safe side. Call the police if the other driver does not have a valid license or proper insurance, as both of these are illegal.
You should also call the police immediately in the event of a hit-and-run accident. Obtain as much information about the hit-and-run driver as you can, such as the license plate number, make, model or color of the car.
You may not need to call the police if the accident was minor; this means that nobody was injured and there was no substantial damage to either vehicle. Determining whether to call 911 after a car accident is a judgment call; again, if you are uncertain, you should call the police.
After an accident, remain as calm as possible and act courteously towards the other driver. Being involved in an accident can be nerve-racking, but staying level-headed will allow you to proceed forward logically and avoid any hostile interactions with the other driver. Make sure nobody was injured, and do not admit fault.
Regardless of whether you decide to call the police, there are several pieces of information you should collect after an accident, including the names and contact information from all drivers involved in the accident. If there were eyewitnesses, ask for their names and contact information as well. Check to see if there is security footage that would have documented the accident. For example, if the accident happened near a store, see if the store has a security camera filming the outside.
You should collect car insurance information from the other drivers, including the name of the insurance provider, policy number and phone number. Document all vehicle information relevant to the accident such as the make, model and color as well as the driver’s license plate number. Take photos of the scene and take pictures of any damage to the vehicles. Additionally, you should document how the accident happened.
If the other driver tries to offer some form of compensation immediately after the accident separate from insurance, do not accept. After an accident, it is often difficult to determine the extent of your injuries or damage. Do not sign any documents, unless they are from the police.
After Police Arrive at the Scene of an Auto Accident
If the police are called after an accident, they will arrive to assess the damage and document the scene. Police officers may also call for medical help if they determine that it is necessary. All drivers involved in the accident will speak to the police, as they will obtain statements from each person.
After taking statements and assessing the situation, the police will file a report of the accident. This report is a record that may be cited later in the event of lawsuit. A police report is also sometimes necessary when filing an insurance claim.
Before the police leave the scene, there are several pieces of information you should obtain. Write down the officer’s name, badge number, phone number and police report number. When filing an insurance claim, the insurance company will probably ask for this information so having it ready ahead of time is helpful.
When should you file an insurance claim after a car accident? Personal injury attorneys advise that you file for a claim immediately; do not delay. Immediately after the accident, the details are still fresh in your mind. Your insurance company will ask about the accident and needs this information. Include everything you can remember. If considering litigation, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you are able.