If you’ve been in a car accident in the past, you should know very well how devastating it can be. If you’re unlucky, you might end up with a lot of debt from medical bills or, worse, suffer from debilitating injuries. Unfortunately, not all drivers know how to deal with car accidents, especially those who haven’t experienced this scenario before.
If you’re one of those drivers, stick to this guide for practical tips on how you should handle car accidents to alleviate physical and financial consequences.
- Call 911 Immediately
Before even thinking about a settlement, you should first check yourself for injuries right after the accident. If you sustained an injury, call 911 immediately. If you don’t have a phone available at the moment, ask a bystander to make the call. Take note that this applies to both minor and major collisions.
- Protect The Scene
Once you’ve called the proper authorities, you need to protect the scene in case another car passes by. In order to do so, you can try turning on your flashers or setting off your flares from your emergency kit. Doing so will inform other drivers that there’s an incident around the area, and they should be alert. If you don’t have any of these pieces of equipment, a simple flashlight will do.
- Cooperate With Responding Officers
After a while, multiple responding officers should arrive at the scene. They’ll, then, fill out an accident report, which you can use when proving your point during the settlement. An accident report is also required by most insurance companies when you file a car accident injury claim. If you’re not well-versed in this area, experts suggest hiring an attorney or a lawyer. Thus, it pays to check out a recommended reading explaining the benefits of getting a lawyer for car accidents.
In the event where the officers aren’t able to document the scene and file a report, you can complete the report yourself by going to your nearest police station.
- Document The Scene
Although the police already have a copy of the report, it’s always worth having your own documentation of what happened in the scene. Here are a few tips when documenting the scene:
- Get some information on the responding officers, such as badge numbers and names.
- Take a picture of the scene and your vehicle, preferably the parts that have been damaged. You can also take a picture of your injury, if you have one.
- Get a copy of the accident report from the responding officers.
- Take down the names and contact information of witnesses.
With these vital pieces of information, you’ll have a better chance of receiving the compensation you deserve from the other party. Your insurer may also require some of these data if you want to file an accident injury claim. However, let’s not forget that you should also exchange information with the party directly involved in the accident.
- Exchange Information With The Other Party
When filing a car accident injury claim, one can get at least USD$3000 for minor cases and USD$20,000 for incidents resulting in permanent damage. Thus, it’s pretty understandable why drivers at fault tend to bail out by not contacting you or intentionally missing your calls when you ask for car accident settlement. So, if you want to avoid this predicament, you need to exchange information on the spot.
Below are a few examples of what information you might need:
- Contact number
- License plate number
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle specifications
If they ever show signs of bailing out on you, you can use these pieces of information to find their whereabouts, especially if you sustained heavy damage or your car is expensive.
This should be possible by calling dispatch and having them run the name and license number to find a home address. Bu, that’s only if they run away after the accident. If they don’t, you would, first, have to deal with who’s at fault.
- Avoid Discussing Who’s At Fault At The Scene
There are cases where the driver who was obviously at fault would deny their mistakes. In such a case, there’s no need to push them into admitting. The best-case scenario would be to hold off the argument until both parties have calmed down and let the insurance adjuster determine who’s at fault or not. If you feel like you’ll lose, hiring a lawyer may help. They should be able to forge a good argument for the court using the information that you’ve gathered.
In the meantime, however, both parties should seek medical attention.
Even the most minor car accidents can lead to considerable expenses, and you can’t resolve the issue immediately after the incident. If you want to have the best chance of receiving proper compensation, your best bet would be to slowly build up your story by gathering information from the scene. And, for that, the above tips may help.