Traffic accidents are unfortunate, but all too common occurrence in life, and can be a life-altering event – or worse. In the moments immediately following a traffic accident, those involved may be dealing with catastrophic injuries, property damage or loss of transportation, extreme stress and anxiety. With so many factors involved, being prepared to the greatest extent possible is a best practice, and researching “next steps” before the dust settles is even more important.
Follow These 6 Steps After a Car Accident
Step 1: Move yourself and your car to safety
Immediately following an accident, if at all possible drivers of each vehicle involved should turn on hazard lights and move their vehicles to the roadside or as far from traffic as possible, only IF there is a safe place to park them and IF there is no risk to drivers, occupants or other vehicles.
Step 2: Check for injuries
Check all occupants of your vehicle for injuries, even in a minor impact. Call 911 if anyone has sustained even a minor injury.
Step 3: Call the Police
Always call and request police assistance, as an accident report from a police officer may be used as evidence for an insurance claim.
Step 4: Exchange information
If you’re comfortable doing so, exchange insurance and identification information with other drivers involved. If any witnesses come forward, collect their contact information if they are willing to provide it. Obviously, if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable dealing with the other driver(s), wait for police to arrive and assist.
Step 5: Contact You Insurance Carrier
Contact your insurance carrier at this time. Many insurance companies will assist you with arranging for a tow truck if needed and will normally open a file for your possible claim.
Step 6: Take Photos With Your Mobile Phone
Take photographs of the vehicles, the license plates of all vehicles involved, road conditions, traffic signs and any other possible factor that could help police or insurance adjusters determine who was at fault. Also be sure to get a business card or the name, badge number and office phone number of the responding police officer, as well as the police report number.
If you have been injured and transported to a medical facility, you, a loved one or friend should contact police as soon as possible.
What You DO NOT Want To Do After You Get in a Car Accident
It’s also important to remember what not to do after an accident, as what you say and do can adversely affect you from a legal and financial standpoint. With this in mind, DO NOT:
- Get angry or confrontational. Focus on the tasks at hand.
- Admit fault or apologize. In the stress and heightened emotion in the aftermath of an accident; you may take the blame for an accident that truly was not your fault or that was only partially your fault.
- Discuss the accident with anyone other than the police, your insurance company and your attorney. Do NOT discuss anything with the other driver’s insurance company.
- Consent to give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. This may very well be used against you at some point.
Your Insurance Company Is Ready To Help – To A Degree
Certainly, contacting your insurance agent or the carrier’s claims personnel (the phone number is in most cases listed on the back of your insurance card) can bring your insurance company to your side for assistance.
However, the amount of assistance an insurance company will offer to its insureds can vary greatly, depending on the company and the details of the accident. While under Missouri state law (as well as Illinois state law) all vehicles must be insured, many vehicles are not insured which means your insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage will have to cover your claim.
In this scenario your insurance company will pay your claims. If the other driver or drivers were insured and they were at fault, there still may be disputes about who was at fault, the costs of repairs or replacement of your vehicle and much more. Insurance companies in many cases will advocate for their insured in these examples.
The bottom line is a number of issues are on the table, many of them potentially extremely costly and several that could impact your near- and long-term health, your ability to work and your financial future. While your insurance company is on your side, what that actually means in terms of aggressive advocacy and representation of you is uncertain.
Have You Been In A Car Accident? The Personal Injury Lawyers at Newton Barth Are Here to Help.
If you have been involved in a traffic accident, It’s best to secure an experienced, effective legal counsel with an exceptional level of success in traffic accident representations. Our Personal Injury Attorneys have an extensive record of success in representing clients who have been involved in traffic accidents.
They are exceptionally skilled in assessing the facts associated with an accident, dealing with insurance companies and members of law enforcement and in protecting the interests of clients in what can be complex and potentially life-altering accidents. In addition to our depth of experience in these matters, we are committed to clear, regular and consistent communication with our clients. Contact us today for a complimentary assessment of your situation and to discuss how we may ensure you have effective and efficient legal representation.