You’ve Had a Car Accident. What Should You Do Now?

After a car accident, there are steps you need to take to follow the law, make sure you and everyone else are safe, and get started with the insurance process. Accidents happen even to the most careful drivers. One of the first things you need to do is stay calm since keeping a calm demeanor can help you document the accident accurately and thoroughly. 

Check Yourself and Passengers for Injuries

If you are injured, call 911 or have someone else do it. If you are seriously hurt, you want to do your best not to move until emergency personnel arrives. If you aren’t too hurt to move, check passengers in the car. 

Get to Safety

If you are able to move to the sidewalk or side of the road, do so. If your car is safe to drive and could be causing a hazard where it is currently then pull over to the side of the road. If your car isn’t okay to drive, then get yourself and passengers to safety. 

Call 911

Even if the accident is minor, it’s important to call the police. Police officers will complete an accident report and provide documentation of the scene. If the police aren’t able to come to the scene, you are able to go to the a nearby police station and in order to do the report yourself. When you do file an insurance claim, they may ask for a copy of your police report so this can help you with the claims process. 

Wait for Help

When you are waiting for help, stay safe by turning off your engine, use road flares, and turn on hazard lights. 

Exchange Information

Once everyone is safe, start exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver. You should have contact information and full name, policy number and insurance company, license plate and driver’s license number, color, model, and type of vehicle, and the accident location. It’s best to avoid discussing fault when going over the facts. When filing a claim, the adjuster assigned to the case will review the claim and determine who is at fault based on the property damage, information provided by everyone involved in the accident, and supporting documents, such as photographs from the scene or the police report. 

Document the Accident

In order to protect yourself, it’s helpful to document the scene and the accident. Once police arrive, get the badge numbers and names of responding offers. Ask to get a copy of the police report or find out where you can obtain it. You will need a copy when you file an insurance claim. Take pictures and document the accident. Take different angles and include damage from both cars. You may also want to take pictures of the license plates in order to make sure they are documented correctly. You should be able to share photos with your insurance company in order to support your claim. Write down the names and addresses of everyone involved, including passengers in the other car. If there are witnesses at the scene, get names and contact information. 

Determine What Insurance Coverage Would Apply

How the claims process is going to work out will depend on who is at fault for the accident and the type of coverage both you and the other driver have. If the other driver is at fault, then you and your passengers’ expenses are covered under his or her insurance. If the other driver doesn’t have enough coverage or insurance, then you may need to get covered under uninsured or underinsured coverage. You will also need to decide whether or not you should file a claim. If the accident was your fault and the damage is minor, it could be tempting to just pay cash for the other driver’s repairs. This could be costlier than you think and damage that looks minor can still be very expensive. You may have to use your own insurance at first, even if the crash was not your fault. 

Notify Your Insurance Company to Start the Claims Process

You may want to speak with your insurance agent while you are still at the scene so he or she can tell you what you need in order to process your claim correctly and what you should expect during the process. If you have issues with the claims process, you should consult with a lawyer. An Alabama car accident lawyer can help you, especially if there are issues with your claim or questions about whether or not the accident was your fault. 

Accidents can leave everyone frazzled but following these steps immediately after an accident can protect you. This way, you can work on getting the medical care you need and work with insurance to get your vehicle fixed as soon as possible.