From fender-benders to serious high-speed collisions, car accidents of all types are alike in many ways regarding safety, injuries, and persevering evidence for a claim. The following is a breakdown of some of the most important steps for accident victims to keep in mind after a collision.
Pull Over to a Safe Location
A driver’s first move in the wake of a car accident should be to get their vehicle out of traffic to minimize the potential for further damage. Both drivers should pull off the road, preferably to a nearby side street or parking lot. Pulling over onto the shoulder of the road is also an option, as long as it is a safe distance from passing cars.
Make sure to turn on emergency blinkers or use road flares to alert oncoming traffic if the road is dark or if the scene is hidden around a bend or another obstruction. If the car cannot be moved, all occupants should get to a safe location, but no one should leave the accident scene. If it is safe to do so, vulnerable individuals and pets should be kept in the car and out of harm’s way. However, drivers should be aware of the dangers of leaving young children, pets, or those with mobility issues in a hot car.
Assess Injuries at the Accident Scene
Unless it is absolutely necessary, do not remove children from car seats, especially if injuries are suspected. Emergency responders are trained to do so safely while evaluating for injuries. Drivers should check themselves and their passengers for signs of injuries and call 911 for help. Even seemingly minor injuries should be assessed by a medical professional. Some cuts and bruises that are initially disregarded turn out to be signs of more serious injuries.
The emergency response team will need location information. Take note of cross streets or nearby addresses to provide to the dispatcher. If the accident happened on a highway, exit signs or mile markers can help identify the exact location of the accident.
Be Cooperative and Calm
When an officer responds to the scene of the accident, both drivers will be asked for certain identifying paperwork, including a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. The officer will use this information, along with collected information on all occupants in the vehicles, damage to the cars, and reports of obvious injuries. Drivers should be mindful of what is said in the aftermath of an accident. While waiting for an officer to arrive on the scene, those involved in the collision may begin exchanging information. It is wise to stick to contact information and insurance policy materials. Drivers should be careful not to say anything that could be construed as a statement of responsibility for the accident. Even talking about injuries can be costly. Anyone hurt in the accident should wait to be seen by a doctor before stating that they are fine. It can be harder to execute a claim for any injury that manifests in the hours or days after the crash if the victim stated that they are okay.
Drivers should also be wary if the other driver offers cash or some other pay-off proposition to move on from the accident without filing an insurance claim. Accepting such an arrangement, even if the other driver says that they have no insurance coverage, can significantly affect the ability to collect for a serious injury.
Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
Collecting evidence is very wise. In addition to obtaining the other driver’s identification and insurance information, take note of the vehicle’s color, make, model, and license plate number. Drivers should note passengers or conditions of the other vehicle, including any distracting elements, such as a loud radio or evidence of driver intoxication. Pictures or videos at the scene can be helpful if an injury claim is disputed. Obtaining contact information from anyone who observed the accident can be invaluable. Interviews with an eyewitness may lend significant weight to an insurance claim or a personal injury case.
Drivers should make note of everything they remember as soon as possible. They should write down what they notice about the road conditions and weather that may have contributed to the crash and include any details that seem relevant. Record everything about injuries or damage resulting from the crash. Make all observations while the incident is fresh in mind. Anyone injured in the accident should be sure to keep records of any doctor’s visits, tests, or treatments, including a copy of each of the associated bills. Good record keeping will help in recovering medical expenses as part of the accident claim.
File an Accident Report
If a responding officer does not show up, the incident can be reported in person by visiting the local police department office. This is usually possible if it is filed within 72 hours of the accident, but laws vary by state. Having an official report of the accident can be indispensable if the accident claim is later disputed.
Contact the Insurance Company
Drivers should contact their insurance provider as soon as possible after the accident. In fact, some providers offer services that may provide assistance at the scene, such as towing services, roadside assistance, or help in procuring a rental car. In any case, contacting the policy provider right away will start the claim process.
Making an accident claim requires paperwork, but much of it is also virtually accessible. Many insurers offer mobile applications to handle different aspects of a claim. The process will probably require the insurance company to assess the damage to the vehicle involved in the crash. If this is the case, the claim may require taking the car to an affiliated service station. If the car is not running, an insurance adjuster may pay a visit to assess the damage. In some cases, a remote inspection of the vehicle is possible. Virtual claim services are becoming more common during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Consult a Lawyer
Once all the information is collected and submitted, the insurance companies of both drivers will assess the details of the crash and come up with a claim settlement in accordance with state laws. If the settlement is unsatisfactory, the claimant has the right to dispute the claim. If the claim continues to be in dispute, the claimant retains the option to take the appeal to the next level and sue for a more appropriate resolution. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can protect the rights of their client.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Clients Injured in All Types of Car Accidents
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, you should be eligible to collect compensation for your losses. A Virginia Beach car accident lawyer at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help you prove that the other driver was responsible for your accident and support your claim for damages. Complete our online form or call us at 757-LAW-0000 for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we assist clients in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.