How to Protect Yourself After a Car Accident
The best method for protecting one’s self is to do everything one can to stay safe on the road and avoid an accident. Unfortunately, even with the best and most careful driving skills, it is impossible to ensure the other drivers are driving responsibly.
In many cases, drivers are distracted, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or just have a complete disregard for the rules of the road. Those issues often lead to accidents. After the accident, it is important that a driver does everything they can to protect themselves from further issues that can arise from that accident.
Immediately After the Accident
Once an accident occurs, it can be disorienting and difficult to know what to do next. Learning ahead of time can help in these situations. The first thing to do is to assess for injuries. If the driver has injuries from the car accident, it is important that emergency services are contacted.
If there are no injuries or they seem to be minor, it is a good idea to assess the passengers and then the occupants of the other vehicle. The next step is to see if the vehicles are able to be moved off the roadway. Moving the vehicles can help prevent additional accidents.
If the vehicles are unable to be moved, turn on the hazard lights and set flares or markers on the road to alert other drivers. The next step is to contact the police to file a report and contact a towing company to remove any incapacitated vehicles.
At the Accident Scene
Once all the immediate steps are taken, the next step is to exchange information with the other driver while waiting for police and tow trucks to arrive. Stay in a safe location to avoid further accidents during this process.
Drivers should exchange their full name and contact information. They should also provide each other with their insurance company and policy number. Driver’s license and plate information can also be beneficial in the claims process. It is also a good idea to make a note of the type, color, and model of the vehicle, as well as the location of the accident.
It is also a good idea to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles and the area of the accident while at the scene. If there are any witnesses to the accident nearby, it is a good idea to get their names and contact information as well.
Once the police arrive, they will create an accident report and take statements from both drivers. It is a good idea to get the name and badge number of every officer on the scene. Also, inquire about when and where the accident report will be available.
Of course, getting care for any injuries immediately after the accident is important. Unfortunately, the trauma and excitement of the accident can sometimes mask the symptoms of an injury. In some cases, the injuries may not even present themselves until hours or days later.
If possible, it’s a good idea to get checked out by a medical care provider immediately after the accident to be on the safe side. They may be able to identify an injury or problem that may not be as easily noticed while the body is still in shock.
Even if medical care is not received immediately after, care should be sought at the first sign of a problem. There are various injuries that may not have immediate symptoms but can be very serious or even life-threatening. For example, a concussion may not cause pain at first, but could potentially be fatal if not treated.
Getting medical care as soon as possible is not only important for a person’s health and safety, but it is also important for any injury claims against the at-fault driver. Delaying care could create issues with getting compensation for those injuries.
The Insurance Company
The next step in the process is to file a claim with your own insurance company. Most insurance providers offer a specific number to file claims when an accident has occurred. This is necessary for getting the process started even if the other driver was at fault.
It is important that only information specific to the accident be provided to the insurance company. This is especially important when dealing with the other party’s insurance company. Gathering the facts and all information about the accident before the call can help ensure this goes smoothly.
What Not to Do
It is important that only the facts are ever discussed. The driver should never accept fault or even discuss the fault of the accident with the other driver at the scene of the accident. It is also important to not apologize for the accident, even if guilt is felt. These statements could be used to prevent a proper claim settlement.
It is also a good idea to not add thoughts about the accident. If it is not a fact, do not state it to the other driver or either insurance companies. Making guesses or assumptions about something that may have happened could possibly complicate the case and may even put part of the blame on the injured driver.
This process can seem complicated and confusing for many people. Unfortunately, getting it wrong could cost someone the compensation they need to repair their vehicle or even cover their medical bills. Although minor accidents can be easily handled on your own, if the accident is severe or there are injuries, it may be a good idea to get the assistance of an attorney.
An attorney can assist with the entire process. They can even deal directly with the insurance company to ensure only the right information is given. An attorney will work hard to protect the rights of the injured party and help them to get the compensation they need to recover.
An accident, even a minor one, can have devastating effects on a person’s life. It is important to try to stay calm and get help where available.