The shock and disbelief you feel in the moments after a car accident, regardless of its size, is extremely unsettling. Once you check your physical condition, the big question comes to mind, “Now what do I do?” The insurance you carry on your car is there to aid you in minimizing financial losses you may incur. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t need to know the steps you should take to protect yourself after a mishap with your car. These few suggestions will be a great help should you be involved in an automobile accident.
Check for Injuries
Take inventory of yourself first, then move on to check the condition of any passengers in your car. If it’s possible, also find out about the people in the other vehicle. If you find that there are any injuries or that anyone should be looked over by medical personnel, call 911 right away.
Take Safety Measures
Observe your surroundings and decide how to prevent any further incidents best. If your car has been disabled where it may impede traffic, try to move it out of the way. While leaving it in place to provide information about the cause of the wreck may seem important, ensuring the safety of both passing drivers and everyone involved in the accident comes first.
As quickly as possible, make sure the ignition switch is off. Use your hazard lights to prevent involving additional vehicles in the accident. If you have emergency flares or warning devices on hand, set them up around your car.
Determine Extent of Damage and Notify Police
If medical personnel is not needed, notify the police department’s non-emergency operator of the accident and ask what you should do next.
In The United States, you are required to make a police report after any collision which has any of these qualifying factors:
Injuries, regardless how serious, have resulted.
You have reason to believe that the other driver involved in the wreck has violated a law, including being under the influence of a controlled substance.
Bicyclists or people on foot are involved.
Damage has been done to a private, municipal or highway property.
A government vehicle or one carrying dangerous goods is involved.
The dollar amount resulting from the total damages to all vehicles goes beyond the limit in the state where the wreck occurred. In Wyoming, for example, if combined damages from the accident exceed $2000, you are required to call the police and submit information to a Collision Reporting Center,
Observe the make, model and license plate number of all other involved vehicles. From the other driver(s) in the accident, take their names, phone number, address and driver’s license number. Also, look at all their insurance information, noting both insurance company and policy number. Locate any possible witnesses at the scene and get contact information for them.
Be Polite but Don’t Admit any Fault
Although you may be certain that you were the cause of the accident, never make a statement while at the scene that indicates you believe you are to blame. You may not have complete information on how and why the accident occurred. Fault Determination Rule in Wyoming, for example, lists more than 40 different scenarios of collisions to ensure that fair treatment is given to all drivers.
Wait for the accident professionals to resolve your situation. Avoid making any agreements with other parties regarding fault, payment of damages, etc. This is the role of your insurance company.
Notify Your Insurance Company
No matter whether your accident was serious or minor, you need to get in touch with your automobile insurance company, as the other driver may decide to file a claim against you. You should contact your agent quickly and allow the representative to act as a go-between between you and the agency insuring the other driver.
Providing information early on to your insurer allows him to lead you through the steps to take. This includes things like reporting the accident and going through the processing of paperwork to get things moving quickly on your case. It is important to do all this while the accident details are still clear in your memory.
If you are sure that the accident was the result of someone else, make sure to contact a personal injury lawyer such as Personal Injury Law Office of Rodney K. Okano.
Being aware of the appropriate steps to take when you have been involved in an accident will give you a sense of control and help calm the situation. Carrying out your responsibilities in a cool and methodical way will aid in protecting you in the legal aspects of the event. Following the established protocol is the best way to help your insurer provide you with every protection and recovery of loss that your policy calls for.