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What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident & Shortly Afterward?

Immediately After A Car Accident

You may not have experienced a car accident so far, but it can happen. According to Statista, there were some 6.3 million crashes in the U.S. in 2015. For the best outcome, you need to prepare for the possibility.

According to car insurance industry estimates, an average driver files an accident claim once in 17.9 years. The National Safety Council estimates there are approximately 10 million collisions every year, resulting in over 2 million injuries. 

Distracted driving caused by smartphone use is becoming an increasingly hazardous activity. The U.S. has had the most significant year-to-year spike in automotive-related fatalities per-mile-driven in over 50 years. There have been 37,461 fatalities in 2016 alone. There were an estimated 40,000 fatalities in 2017 according to National Safety Council.

Some experts blame the rising casualties on distracted driving caused by smartphone use. That also means that the chances of getting into an accident have risen. So, be smart and avoid getting caught off-guard; know what you need to do after a crash.

Be Prepared Before Your Get Into A Car Accident

Just in case, take pictures of your car now so that if you have an accident, the photos you take after the crash will help you compare the damage and support your claim or case. Also, store a couple of blankets in your car, in case you need them to keep any injured persons warm.

How To Handle Car Accidents with Injuries or Fatalities

If you are involved in a car accident, you need to know what to do when it happens. There are important things you can do at the accident scene — and soon afterward — to protect your rights and save anyone you can help.

An injury or death complicates what you should do after a car accident. Your ability to do the right thing and protect your interests hinges on what you do immediately after a crash.

You must first pull over (if the car is still maneuverable) and move to the roadside. You need to ensure that you and anyone else involved in the car accident are safe. Accidents with injury, or worse, require immediately notifying emergency services and police after you pull over. Call 911 to get help ASAP.

While you are waiting for help, cover an injured person or persons with a blanket to help prevent shock. Do not try to move an injured person out of the way unless there is an immediate risk of further danger.

In case of a fatal car accident, be aware that the subsequent litigation can become complex depending on the circumstances. Fatal car accidents, i.e., those which result in sudden or eventual death, will lead to criminal charges of either involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, or murder.  

Since it is unlikely at the accident scene that you will have the frame of mind you need, be prepared ahead of time. Keep a piece of paper in your car and a draft message in the Drafts section of your online email account (so you can access it via your smartphone).

You Need To Stay Put After A Car Accident

After an accident, whether with or without injuries or fatalities, you should pull over (if you can) and get out of your car. 

No matter what happens in the car accident, do not leave the scene (unless you get hit in a deserted area). Otherwise, you run the risk of criminal charges for a hit-and-run accident.

However, if you are in a deserted area when hit by another car, you should go straight to the nearest police station to report what happened. People have been known to run into the victim’s car deliberately and then rob them.

After A Car Accident Be Sure To Check Others’ Condition

After a car accident, the most important thing is keeping everyone safe and tending to anyone who may be injured. So, the first thing you need to do after a car accident is to ensure everyone is okay. If not, then contact emergency services to provide medical attention ASAP.

Kniowing If You Need To Contact the Police After A Car Accident

You need to notify police immediately when there is property damage, injury, or a fatality. Get the name and badge numbers of the responding police officers and request a copy of the police report.

Be aware that police may not come if the accident caused only minor damage. In this case, you should file a police report; and file report with the DMV (within the time required by the laws of your state). A police report also makes your insurance claim stronger. Also, because injuries sometimes are felt later on; you need to have the accident report filed to bolster your case in court.

Exchange Essential Insurance & Contact Information

After you have done what you need to do first, then collect information you will need later on. The information you gather will be helpful for the police, insurers, and your attorney (if you need one).

Get the names, drivers’ license and license plate numbers, car make, model and year, phone number, and insurance policy information from any other driver involved. Obtain the name and phone number of any passenger.

Be cordial and cooperative, but don’t apologize for the incident. In some states, fault isn’t a determinative factor for what an insurer will pay for any loss.

Talk to Any Witnesses Who Saw The Car Accident

If there are any witnesses, ask them what they saw. Obtain their names, telephone numbers, and addresses, if you can. Ask any local witnesses, if this is an accident-prone area.

Collect Photographic Evidence

By collecting photographic evidence, you can support your position about the accident’s cause. Photographs help insurance adjusters figure out the damage compensation amount; and, if necessary, can be helpful in court.

Your insurer may have an app for documenting accident scenes. Download it. Insurers have now started providing apps that include a checklist and guide policyholders on how to collect information they will need to file a claim. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also provides a WreckCheck App that’s free.

Inform Insurance Company and Check Police Report

After you have left the accident scene, let your insurer know you were involved in an accident and be honest; otherwise, you risk denial of coverage. Look over the filed police report, if any, because police reports sometimes contain mistakes. 

If the filed police report contains errors, it will negatively impact your situation. If there is conclusive evidence of a mistake, you can request to have the report changed or supplemented. 

If you suffered an injury, you should consult a lawyer.  By 2010, research by the Insurance Research Council revealed the average medical claim is over $20,000. Since medical costs are rising, this amount will increase over time.

With the information contained here, you can better prepare yourself for involvement in an accident. Keep it handy so that the shock of the incident does not overcome your capacity to do your best if such an eventuality occurs.