8 Steps to Take After an Accident
If you experience an accident, either in a car or on someone’s property, you will likely experience a rush of adrenaline and emotions that can cloud your thinking and impair you from making the best choices. Luckily, there are some clear steps you should take following an accident that will help make the best of a bad situation.
1. Stay Put
Unless you are being actively menaced by someone involved in the accident, stay at the scene where the accident occurred. This is especially true if you’re at fault: don’t leave the scene until you’ve followed the proper procedure, or you could be charged with a hit and run.
2. Assess the Situation
First and foremost, make sure all the people involved in the accident are physically okay. If you need medical attention, call for help right away. Getting medical attention is your top priority in any accident situation. If someone is unresponsive, call an ambulance and don’t move the person.
3. Call the Police
If there’s any damage done to either party, call the police right away. Especially if you are not at fault, you want a police record written of the incident, as this can be important for insurance claims in the future. Be sure to be specific that you’d like a report filed, and take down the name and badge numbers of officers at the scene.
4. Gather Information
While you’re waiting for the police or medical attention, take down accurate and detailed information from the parties involved, including any witnesses. If you have time, ask locals if accidents commonly occur in the area, as this can be helpful. Document the scene with as many photographs as possible to prove the extent of your damage. Try not to make a statement as to who was at fault just yet, and keep cool and calm with the other people involved in the accident.
5. Inform Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance company and give them an honest and detailed description of the accident. Be sure you’re telling the truth, because if you lie and you’re caught, the company can deny you coverage for the accident. Send them the police report so they know who was legally at fault.
6. Keep Track of Your Medical Treatment
Keep careful records of any medical treatment you receive, including any associated costs of going to the doctor, such as parking and hotel stays. Request copies of all your medical reports and bills to prove medical expenses after the fact, and note any lost work days or routine activities you couldn’t engage in.
7. Don’t Immediately Accept a Settlement
If your insurance company offers you a quick settlement, hesitate before signing. Many injuries take time to heal or even manifest at all, and accepting a quick offer may deny you coverage if you find previously unnoticed damage a few weeks or months after the accident.
8. Consult a Lawyer
If you’re unsatisfied by the handling of your accident or injury, an attorney can help you maximize your chances for justice and a fair settlement. Many attorneys work on a contingency fee, which means you don’t have to pay anything unless you win a settlement!