11 Steps to Follow After a Car Crash
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 6,000,000 Car Crash accidents each year in America. You may not be able to think clearly after a car accident, no matter how minor or major. This is how to handle the situation and make it easier when filing a claim.
Find out if anyone is hurt
Do not leave an accident scene, even if it is minor. Safety is your first priority. Everything else can wait, says Rob Luna (group manager, auto claims, American Automobile Association, Costa Mesa, California).
You and your vehicle must be free from danger
If you are not hurt and the accident is minor, drive your car carefully to the side of traffic so that it doesn’t block traffic. To signal other drivers to slow down, keep your hazard lights on. If the accident is more serious or someone is injured, you should leave the vehicles as they are.
Even if you think you aren’t hurt, it’s a good idea to be extra cautious when you get out of your car, especially if it was on a busy road or highway. Your ability to think logically could be putting you at risk.
Get in touch with the police
Luna says that while it is important to report an accident, some areas may not be able to respond to minor collisions.
He says that some police departments are moving to online reporting rather than focusing resources on the scene of an accident.
Note the name, badge number, and contact information of any police officers who arrive. You should request a copy from the officer of the accident report. You can request a copy from the police or the adjuster who is handling your claim if they are not available.
Collect important information
You can take photos with your smartphone camera or use pen and paper to get the names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers of all those involved in an accident. Determine the relationship between the driver and the owner of the vehicle if the driver’s name is not listed on the registration or insurance papers.
Gather all information about your vehicle, including the year, make, model, color and vehicle identification number. Luna recommends that you get the number of the insurance company and the policy number. This is in case the other person fails to report the accident. Ask witnesses if they are available to give you contact information and details about the incident.
Never give out your Social Security number, your coverage limits or any other information about you to anyone.
Photograph the scene
Luna suggests that you record as much detail as possible about the accident using your smartphone’s camera and voice memo features.
“Ascertain the extent of the damage to the car. Was it on the driver’s side, front, or rear. You can do this by taking photos of your entire car as well as close-up shots of the damage to the car and other person.
Keep track of the accident date and time. Photograph or film the entire accident scene, including any skid marks and property damage. Notify street names and which direction each vehicle was going before and after the accident.
“One thing that is often overlooked is the relative position of the cars to the street. Luna explains that this is crucial information because it allows the adjuster to recreate the accident after you file the claim.
Draw a diagram of what happened at the crash site. Use the voice memo app to dictate the details while you are still fresh. You can also include information about weather conditions and visibility.
Avoid having to discuss responsibility with others on the road.
Denise Schipani (54), and her son were stopped at Huntington Station’s traffic light when a car crashed into them from behind.
She says, “We were jerked forward. I braked hard and stopped just as I touched my bumper on the car in front.” “In that instant, I didn’t know what had happened and I recall being confused by the small pieces of black stuff that were scattered around the back seat. It turned out that the back window had broken. Although we were shaken, no one was hurt.”
- Schipani donned her hazard light, double-checked her son’s health and dialled 911.
- “Then, I approached the other driver. She says that he tried to blame the wet leaves on his road but there weren’t any.” He was clearly distracted and accelerated.
- Schipani chose to not argue. Luna suggests that you trust your instincts if you feel the other driver is aggressive or impaired after a car crash.
- He advises that you stay in your car and not interact with the person.
If you need a tow truck, call us
Luna says that depending on the extent of damage to your vehicle, you may need to have it tow to a collision repair facility. Motor club memberships offer roadside assistance, which is one of many benefits. Some car manufacturers also offer driver assistance programs.
Luna says that you should not assume that a tow truck will appear at your crash site by chance. Luna advises that you verify all details and contact information.
Contact your insurance company
It may seem tempting to make a cash deal in order to avoid filing an insurance claim. However, failing to notify your insurance company about a crash after it occurs can result in you being liable for any damages.
Schipani’s agent declared her car total loss. The cost of possible repairs exceeded the car’s worth. She discovered that the driver who hit her had low-quality insurance.
She says, “They claimed it was possible for them to extract money from his head, but they would prefer to handle the claim.” “My advice to you is to not leave the scene, even for a minor fender bender, without filing a police report. This is especially important if it’s clear and obvious that it wasn’t your fault.”
Your insurance claims professional can assist you in navigating your options in cases such as Schipani’s.
Luna says, “If the insurance of another person isn’t enough to cover your damages,” your insurance professional will check your policy for coverage.
If your insurance company determines that you are not at fault, they may offer a liability waiver to help you avoid paying your deductible.
Virtual tools are offered by many insurers, including a mobile app that allows you to start the claim process online. For more information, check your proof of insurance card or call the toll free number. Your insurance company may ask you for a lot of information regarding the accident and even allow you to remotely inspect it using your smartphone.
Some insurers will not only document the crash details but can also arrange for a tow truck or a rental car through the app.
Luna advises that you stay in touch with your insurance company once you report an accident. Keep all accident-related documents organized so you can work with your adjuster to file your claim.
See your doctor
While you may feel fine immediately after an accident, some injuries can take several days to become evident. Minor impacts can cause serious spinal or head injuries. If you feel pain or have unusual symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
Auto insurance policies usually include injuries resulting from a collision. It is important to document any injury that results from an accident.
Preparation is key to staying calm after an accident. Luna recommends downloading the app or forms from your insurance company that will guide you through the insurance claims process.
You will need to designate a place in your car for your registration, proofs of insurance, contact information, and a list to help you remember important details at the accident scene.