Most people have been or will be involved in a car accident in their lifetime. Although it is not something to look forward to, it is something that we can prepare for when the inevitable happens. Here are three helpful things to keep in mind:
- Call the police from the accident scene and get a copy of your accident report when it’s available. Sometimes you may not want to call the police under the belief that the car accident was a minor “fender bender” and you fear that your insurance premium will increase. However, you should always call the police because often you cannot determine the seriousness of the accident immediately after it has happened. Often you will be in shock and may feel relatively okay until the next day when you will feel the extent of the impact of the collision. If you later learn that you have personal injuries and want to file a claim, the fact that you did not call the police from the accident scene can only hurt your case. For this reason, you should always err on the side of caution and call the police from the accident scene. Also, when the police arrive at the scene, they will speak to the occupants of each vehicle and witnesses, if any, and those statements will be included in the police report. The police will also inspect the property damage and include that in the police report as well. The police report is the most accurate record of the accident because it is drafted just after the accident has happened and is fresh in everyone’s memory.
- If you have a smartphone or a phone with a camera function, take photos of the location of the cars before they are moved. Take photos of the property damages to each car. Take photos of the license plates of the other vehicles. Take pictures of the driver and occupants of the other vehicles. Take photos of the interior of the vehicles to show if an airbag deployed, if windshields cracked or shattered and/or the condition of the contents of the car immediately following the accident that is an indication of the severity of the collision. These photos can later be used, if necessary, to show the extent of the impact and to show injuries immediately after the accident.
- If you are injured, go to the hospital. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Often, immediately following an accident, you do not feel much pain and are in shock that you were just involved in an accident. However, a few hours later or the next day, you will feel the impact of the collision and may learn that you have sustained personal injuries requiring ongoing treatment that were not apparent immediately following the accident. The insurance company will question whether your injuries were caused by the accident if you do not go to the hospital following the accident. For this reason, you should go to the hospital from the accident scene and get examined by emergency room doctors who may take x-rays and determine the extent of your injuries.