The Definitive Car Accident Checklist You Absolutely Need
Car accidents are a pretty common occurrence. There are an estimated six million car accidents every year in the United States. Six percent of accidents result in death, and 27 percent result in injury. Knowing what to do after being in an accident is very important. That’s why we compiled this car accident checklist for you.
Understanding your rights and what you need to do after an accident is a must before you ever get into one. After all, you just never know when a car crash can occur.
The following definitive car accident checklist will help you know what to do, whom to contact, and more. You can even print this out and keep a copy in your car just in case.
The top two things to do, and not to do, immediately after a car accident:
1.Stop and stay at the scene until police and medical personnel arrive. Only after they clear you to go should you ever leave the scene of an accident.
2.Never say, “Sorry, it was my fault.” Admitting wrongdoing is against your legal insurance company contract. It can also be used in court.
Examine Damage and Injuries at the Scene
If the accident is serious and you are seriously injured, stay in your vehicle if it is safe to do so. If it is a minor accident, like a small fender bender, get out and evaluate the damage and potential injuries to other passengers and other driver.
However, there are a lot of hazards that are prevalent at an accident scene. For instance, passers by may not be paying attention and this can result in other accidents and injuries. Remember your safety is priority number one.
It is also important not to move your vehicle or any damaged parts of your car until the police arrive. Leading to the next important step in this checklist . . . call the police.
Call the Police After an Accident
From minor accident to serious, call the police to the scene. Chances are, someone who witnessed the car accident will call, but always call to be certain. This is important, because the police will fill out and file a legal accident report.
“Police reports can be essential when filing an insurance claim, and data from reports can also make a significant difference when it comes to determining fault if you need to go to court,” according to Reyna Injury Lawyers, a law firm in San Antonio.
This is essential, since over three million Americans are injured in car accidents per year. Two million drivers will suffer permanent injuries. A police report will help you give a detailed account of who was at fault, and be valuable if you need to go to court.
Try Not to Talk to the Other Driver
Keeping the conversation to a minimum with the other driver is an important point of the car accident checklist. If you talk too much, you may say something that can be used against you later.
Number one rule is to never admit that it was your fault. “While you may believe you are at fault for the accident, you may not be aware of all the facts and circumstances that were at play. Fault will be determined upon further investigation,” according to DMV.org.
Limit your discussion at the scene of the crime to the police investigating the crash, and medical personnel. After the accident, you should contact your insurance company and talk to an agent as well.
Gather Car Accident Facts
If you are not seriously injured, get the facts about the accident. There will be a police report, but don’t simply rely on that. You need to be proactive to ensure you can file your insurance claim, or get personal injury compensation in court.
Unfortunately, this is one checklist must many drivers forget to do at the scene of an accident due to stress, injury, or reliance on the police report.
Car accident facts include:
•Name, address, phone number, email, driver license number, and insurance information of other driver.
•Get car information, like registration number, license plate number, make, model, and year of the cars involved.
•Take pictures of scene, damage, injuries, road conditions, etc.
•Try to get witness statements if possible.
Gathering these facts is important. For instance, you may find that the other driver is uninsured. Or maybe the police forget something in the report.
Call Your Insurance Company
If you can, your second call, after you call the police, should be to your insurance company. Always have the emergency claims number available in your car.
Having your insurance company involved as soon as possible can be very useful when it is time to file your insurance claim. Your insurance agent can guide you through information you need to collect, or they may simply talk to the police on the scene as well.
They may even advise you to seek medical attention. According to DMV.org, “Simply put, for purposes of your health and any insurance claims you file, it's best to always seek medical attention as soon as possible following a car crash.”
File an Insurance Claim
If you are not sure how to file your insurance claim, an agent from your insurance company can help you. Some insurance companies even have claims tools in their mobile device apps.
However, don’t think the process will be easy. It depends on your insurance company, the official police report, the insurance company of the other driver, facts you had collected, and more.
In fact, don’t fall into the trap of believing the many insurance claim myths out there. For instance, the party at fault is responsible for paying your medical bills. Do your due diligence and work with your insurance company.
Use This Car Accident Checklist
There will be a lot going on after an accident, whether at the scene, or when filing your insurance claim. The best advice is to be proactive and gather as many facts as you can, if you are not seriously injured.
It very well make the difference in getting medical costs covered, your car repaired at no cost, or if you file a personal injury lawsuit. Do you know what to do after a car accident?