There is a first time for everything, and unfortunately that includes car accidents. Even if you have been in an accident before, the moments after a car accident can be scary, disorienting and frantic, so knowing what steps to take immediately following the accident will help make sure you protect your rights as a victim.
While some accidents are severe enough to require immediate transport to a hospital, many others just leave you sore and frustrated on the side of the road. Once your immediate health and safety have been considered, here are the next things you should do before leaving the accident site.
1. Get the police to make a report.
Police reports are one of the most useful documents in a motor vehicle accident case. They contain statements from parties and possible witness information, all the information for both drivers, and a diagram of the accident. Police reports are also seen as objective sources. Often when the other driver doesn’t cooperate with their insurance or tells their insurance the accident happened in a different way, this police report is the only way to confirm how the accident happened. While police response times differ from city to city, it is always worth the time to wait for them to come make a report.
2. Get the other driver’s information.
While a police report is a useful tool and will contain all the information you’ll need, it can take anywhere from a week to a month to get a completed report. In that time, your case can move ahead if you get the other driver’s information at the scene of the accident. If you can, take pictures of their license plate, driver’s license and proof of insurance. Make sure you check the date on their proof of insurance to see if it is current. If they don’t have a license or proof of insurance, or will not show them to you, take a picture of their license plate. Even if the other driver refuses to show you their license or proof of insurance, their license plate can be used to search for insurance information.
3. Take pictures of both vehicles.
While you are taking photographs of the other driver’s license plate, take pictures of the physical damage to their car as well. Pictures of physical damage can be used to help reconstruct an accident later on and are always useful to illustrate the severity of the collision. Property damage claims can often be handled relatively quickly, and you may not get another chance to take a picture of their vehicle or of your own before the damage is repaired.
4. Consider obtaining legal counsel before talking to their insurance.
If you’ve done all of the above, you should have all the information you need to call their insurance and start your claim. However, before you speak to their insurance company, consider calling a legal professional. Insurance companies don’t make a profit by paying out full value on injury claims. Their adjuster is going to try and do whatever they can to settle your claim for as little money as possible. They may try to ask you leading questions that can be used against you later on. Even minor accidents can cause significant injuries. If you are hurt, you deserve to be fully compensated for your injury, and sometimes that requires you seek legal action.
The attorneys at Scott Vicknair, LLC have experience dealing with insurance companies so you don’t have to. If you are hurt in an accident, call us before you speak to the insurance company. Leave the hard work to us.