If you are involved in an accident, it can be a traumatic experience. Oftentimes, we hear from clients who get in this situation and don’t know what to do. So Lachowicz Law has come up with an easy guide to follow the next time you are involved in a car accident.
1: Don’t Leave the Scene
Don’t leave the scene of the accident until you’ve exchanged information with others involved in the crash. If a law enforcement officer is investigating, don’t leave without permission from the officer. If you take off before then, you risk a hit-and-run charge.
2: Check for Injuries
Figure out if anyone was injured, starting with you and your passengers. Then, if it’s safe to do so, check on other drivers and passengers. If you discover any injuries, immediately call 911.
3: Call the Police
If you’ve called 911, a police officer will likely be dispatched to the accident. If no one appears to be injured, you have to call the police if property damage exceeds a certain amount set by state law (typically around $1,000, but less in some states).
4: Move Your Vehicle
If the accident is minor with no serious injuries, try to get all vehicles moved over to the side of the road. This will help prevent a bigger traffic jam and will assist first responders in their attempts to reach the accident scene.
5: Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
Make sure to get the other driver’s name, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and car insurance details. If the driver of the car isn’t the owner of the car, get the owner’s information too. To prevent transcription errors or the loss of information, take a picture of the other driver’s insurance card and driver’s license and email or text it to yourself.
6: Take Pictures of the Vehicles
In addition to identifying any witnesses to the accident, take pictures of your car and the other car involved in the accident.
Note details related to the vehicles involved in the accident, including the make, model, and year of the car. Get the license plate number as well.
7: Be Careful About What You Say
Watch what you say at the scene of the car accident. Do not admit fault to the other driver. Even if you truly believe you’re at fault, facts may come out later that show you were mistaken. But if you admit to liability at the scene of the accident, your words can be used against you.
8: Write Out What Happened
Write down what happened. Being involved in an accident gets your adrenaline going, which can make it difficult to remember everything that happened. Jot down the location, intersection, time of day, how fast you were going, etc.
9: Call Your Insurance Company
Your car insurance company will have a number to call to report the accident. You could also call your insurance agent who will ask certain questions and report the accident to your insurance company on your behalf.
10: Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles
Depending on where you live and the seriousness of your accident, you may need to file an accident report with your department of motor vehicles (DMV). Each state has its own criteria.
For example, in California, you must report an accident to the DMV within 10 days if there is more than $1,000 in damage to the property of any person, or if anyone is killed or injured.
11: Keep Careful Records
If you have to get medical treatment or vehicle repairs, keep records of everything. Even if you don’t plan on filing a claim, you might change your mind and you’ll need records to show your accident-related losses.
Car accident attorneys recommend that you keep a car accident journal to back up your claim. Note your injuries and how they impact your life. You should also keep a record of who you talk to and what you talk about. Be sure not to delete any emails you exchange with anyone about the accident.
Step 12: Talk to a Lawyer
If your accident involves serious injuries or major property damage, don’t sign anything that comes from the other driver’s attorney or insurance company without talking to a lawyer. Learn more about talking to the other driver’s insurance company after a car accident and how a lawyer can help with your car accident case. You can connect with an attorney directly from this page for free.
If you have been involved in a car accident and are unsure of what to do next, contact us today. (213) 254-2419