Car crashes are very unexpected and usually affect the victims physically, mentally, and financially. Unfortunately, they are very rampant in the United States. For instance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 6 million accidents happen in the United States every year. If you have been injured in a vehicle crash, you may be too stressed to think clearly. However, there are several steps you can follow to protect yourself and make your claims process easier in the future.
You should never drive away from the crash scene, no matter how minor it is. Your first priority should be to find out if you or anyone else has been hurt. Furthermore, it is advisable to contact emergency responders and wait until they get there.
Protect the scene
You can prevent other oncoming vehicles from crashing by either keeping your hazard lights on or setting up flares near your accident. If it is at night and your vehicle lights are not working, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe as you either wait in the vehicle or by the side of the road. The vehicles involved in the crash should stay where they are.
Call the police
It is very important to contact the police, even if you think you have not been hurt or you have sustained only minor injuries. When the police arrive at the scene of the crash, they will write a police report which you can use to file a claim for the damages you have incurred.
When you’re talking to the investigating officer, you should tell him or her exactly what occurred. Moreover, if you’re asked whether you’re hurt and you are not sure, you should say that instead of saying no. This is because sometimes the pain and internal injuries from crashes can be felt hours or days after the incident. In fact, the only way to determine whether you have been internally hurt or not is by undergoing diagnostic testing.
File a police report
In some cases, police officers may fail to respond to a vehicle crash if there are no injured victims. If a police officer does not respond to the car accident you were involved in, you can file an accident report, which is available on the Department of Motor Vehicles site and at the police station. A police report is a crucial piece of evidence in your case that can be used to quicken the insurance company’s claims process.
Exchange information with the other drivers
You should exchange contact information with other drivers who are involved in the crash as well. For instance, you should collect the other driver’s name and phone number. You can also collect the insurance company’s contact and policy number, the driver’s license number, and their license plates.
Furthermore, if you’re able to, you should write a brief description of every vehicle involved in the crash including the year, model, and color. You can also write the exact location of the crash and a brief description of how it happened.
Photograph the crash scene
You can also use your phone camera to document the damaged vehicles, the crash, the scene, and your injuries. These photos depicting the aftermath of the crash will be used by your attorney as evidence to support your claim and by the claims, adjuster to calculate your compensation amount.
You should also photograph other important details like the crash scene location, the crash scene including the debris in the roadway, the road conditions, vehicle positions, and the skid marks. Furthermore, you should capture the identification photos of the insurance cards and the license plates of the vehicles involved in the crash.
Obtain Information from the Witnesses
Getting the contacts of witnesses is very important because they can help you if there is a misunderstanding with the other drivers about what happened. Therefore, it is advisable to get the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of witnesses.
If emergency responders arrive at the scene fast, you should also include the police department’s name, their mobile number, police report number, and the ambulance company’s contact information.
Do not admit fault at the scene
Even if you think you’re the one that caused the crash, you should not admit fault to other drivers or witnesses. This is because thorough investigations may reveal facts that show you were mistaken, and your words will be used against you. Vehicle crashes can be caused by driver error, faulty vehicle parts, harsh weather conditions, bad roads, and a myriad of other issues that can be established after conducting investigations.
Seek medical attention
In some cases, the injuries sustained by vehicle crash victims are not immediately noticeable. In fact, some victims may start feeling pain a day or two after the crash. Therefore, you should seek medical attention at a hospital immediately after the collision to determine whether you have any internal injuries or not.
Keep a file
You should keep a file of all your vehicular crash-related documents. The information should include a claim number, the claims adjuster handling the claim, the phone numbers and names of all parties involved in the crash, and expenses you have incurred.
Call your insurance company
You should notify your insurance company about the crash, regardless of who is at fault. Many insurance companies have a policy that requires their clients to notify them about their crashes as soon as possible. Failing to inform them about your crash could ruin your coverage.
Informing your insurance company about the crash does not mean you need to file a claim. However, if you want to file a claim, it is advisable to contact an attorney first before communicating with an insurance company because the legal expert can help you avoid saying things that may ruin or weaken your claim.
Contact your attorney
One of the most important things you should do is to contact a car accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo in Boca Raton, FL after the incident. The legal expert will help you collect and safeguard evidence, calculate your full settlement amount, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and represent you at trial if necessary.