Car accidents are an unfortunate and often traumatic experience. You may not be thinking clearly after an accident happens due to adrenaline and fear. However, when you get into a car accident there are some very important steps that need to be taken to ensure that each party involved is safe and that your insurance claim is secure.
At Barfoot & Schoettker, we want to be sure that in the unfortunate event of an accident, you are protected and that you follow the right steps to obtain the insurance claim you deserve.
Here is our list to help guide you through the process following a car accident, so you are a bit more familiar, should one ever occur:
Always stop if you are involved in any sort of accident. Even if you do not think the accident caused any damage, any time you collide with something it is your legal obligation to stop. Driving away from the scene without stopping is illegal and unethical, especially if there was another car or property involved.
After you have stopped, check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If there was another vehicle involved in the accident, check the driver and passengers in the other vehicle to make sure they are okay. Aside from your immediate well-being, if you plan on filing a claim for injuries, personal injury law can often be complicated, so be sure to take note of any injuries right away so you can discuss these with a lawyer when you hire one.
You must also be sure to turn on your emergency blinkers to notify other drivers of a road disturbance. This is an important step to help prevent other accidents from occurring.
Contact the police
After you have stopped your vehicle and checked yourself and others for injuries, it’s time to call 911. Regardless of the type of accident - wasn’t your fault, a minor fender-bender or a major collision - you still need to make sure that there is a legal accident report. The responding officers will come to the scene to fill out a report and document the scene. They will also help with directing cars safely around the accident if it is holding up traffic and creating more dangers.
It is also important to contact the police as your insurance company will most likely ask for a copy of the accident report if you file a claim. This will aid in the claims process and make sure that you get the compensation you deserve and are protected from the other party.
Limit talking with the other party
After you have had an accident, you will be emotional, scared and even regretful. However, it is important to limit your conversation to only speaking to the police, insurance companies and doctors about the accident. The other driver could use the words said during an emotional time against you in a claim which may be detrimental.
Although the police will document the scene and file their report, it is important that you take your own pictures of the accident. Be sure to get all sides and angles of your car and, if another car is involved, the other party’s car.
If you collide with a pole, curb, building or any other thing, you should still take pictures of the damage you caused to it. This will ensure that you have proof of the damage you have done so that you cannot be held responsible for exaggerated damages.
Get the facts
The conditions that you were driving under are important for your insurance claim. They will ask you what the weather was like, if you were listening to the radio and how loud, if you were distracted by your cell phone and if you could have avoided the accident by changing lanes or driving in the median. It is important to remember or write down these details because it may take days for the insurance company to call and ask you about your accident.
If you are involved in an accident with another car, it is extremely important to write down the following details of the other person:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Insurance company and policy number
Notify your insurer and begin the claims process
Call your insurance company as soon as possible. It can be even more beneficial to call them while you are still on the scene so that they can tell you exactly what information they need for your claim. A police officer at the scene will also be able to speak with your insurance company. Often they will give more accurate information as you might be feeling distressed after the accident.
If unsure, engage a lawyer
Car accidents can quickly become overwhelming and confusing. That being said, it is always best to consult with an attorney after any car accident, no matter how big or small, whether it is your fault or the other driver’s fault.
Having a seasoned, knowledgeable lawyer on your side is going to make the claims process immensely easier. Lawyers can deal with the insurance companies for you and help you present your case in the right manner. They will be able to handle your case professionally and in turn, you will be able to get the claim that you deserve after a stressful and potentially traumatic experience.
Car accidents happen too frequently. According to Driver Knowledge, over six million car accidents happen every year in the U.S. alone. That’s over 16,400 a day. Therefore, it is important to be aware of how to safely and lawfully deal with the aftermath of a car accident.
If you need help dealing with your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company, we, at Barfoot & Schoettker want to help makes things right. Contact us today at (334) 834-3444 for legal help with car accidents, insurance claims or other legal matters.