WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
10 steps to do after a car wreck.
Car accidents are a common occurrence in Texas and around the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were approximately 6,452,000 car accidents in 2017. Unfortunately, 1,889,000 of those car wrecks resulted in injury to a person involved in the accident. If you are ever involved in a car accident it is important to know the steps you should take to protect yourself and prevent additional injury.
Below is a list of 10 steps you should take in the event you are ever involved in a car accident.
1. STOP – Never leave the scene of an accident regardless of who is at fault. Even if the accident is small and no one is injured. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime and may result in criminal liability.
2. SECURE YOUR SAFETY – Turn on your hazard lights and remain in your vehicle until police or EMS arrive. The vehicle should remain where it is until police or EMS arrive or unless it is in the path of traffic.
3. CALL 911 – Even if the accident is small or no one seems injured, you will still need a police report in order to file a claim with your insurance company for property damages. It is critical that you have a police record of what happened.
4. GIVE THE POLICE AN ACCURATE RECORD – Tell the police exactly what happened to the best of your ability. If there are any witnesses to the accident make sure that their name and contact information is properly documented and their statement is obtained.
5. EXCHANGE INSURANCE INFORMATION – Write down the name, phone number and address of all persons involved in the accident. Write down the other driver’s insurance information including the name of their insurance company and their policy number. If you have access to a smart phone take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card and driver’s license.
6. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION – Even if you do not believe you are injured it is always safest to obtain a medical evaluation as many injuries present hours or days after the accident. If you do not have any emergent injuries you can be checked out by your primary care doctor or a minor emergency clinic.
7. TAKE PICTURES – Take pictures of all vehicles involved in the accident as well as any physical injuries you or any persons sustained. Take pictures of the road conditions at the time of the accident as well as any nearby road signs.
8. NOTIFY YOUR INSURANCE – Most insurance companies require immediate reporting. You should provide your full cooperation and provide your insurance company with the insurance information of the other driver. Many policies provide Medpay coverage to pay for medical bills necessitated by a car wreck so you will need to check your policy to see what coverage you qualify for.
9. MAINTAIN RECORDS – Keep a file of any police reports, insurance correspondence, medical bills and any other documents you receive related to the crash. Do NOT delete any text messages sent the day of the crash. Preserve all text messages you sent the day of the accident. If you get a new phone make sure you back up your old phone and all relevant text messages.
10. CONTACT A LAWYER – If you were injured in a car accident it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to further explore any rights and remedies you have. Never accept a settlement for physical injuries without contacting an attorney first.
STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE A CAR ACCIDENT
If you haven’t been in a car accident, after patting yourself on the back (while the car’s stopped, of course), use these handy tips to make sure you’re ready for the unpredictable:
1. Pack a safety kit.
2. Keep important documents at the ready (ID, insurance cards, insurance company contact information, vehicle registration, health plan info, etc.).
3. Have your phone on you and charged whenever you hit the road.
4. Keep loose items in the center console or glove box, and not on the seats, where they can get lost or fly around in an accident.
5. Always make sure all car seats are properly installed and all passengers are buckled in.