What to Do After an Auto Accident

In 2009, there were almost six million motor vehicle crashes reported to police in the United States. Of that number, about 28 percent (1.52 million) involved injuries, and less than 1 percent resulted in human loss (30,797). While there may be several resources that help a person manage their accidents, from checklists to phone apps, there are still important things drivers and passengers need to consider if they are ever involved in an accident.

Immediately following a crash, driver and passengers may simply be in shock, but soon find that things move at an incredibly fast pace. Be sure to check to make sure you and your passengers are alert and out of harm’s way. If needed, call for medical assistance.

The police should be called even if there is no apparent vehicle damage or injuries. A police officer will assess the situation, collect information, and many times prepare an accident report. If the officer suspects traffic violations, he or she may issue tickets and summons. The officer’s assessment will also provide some legal basis concerning who may be at fault for the crash. Contact the police department or responding law enforcement agency to obtain a copy of this report.

Anyone involved in an accident will need this information for notifying their personal insurance carrier. Failing to timely notify one’s carrier could result in the company not assisting with repair of vehicle damage or denying certain benefits under the insurance policy.

If there is a dispute as to fault, be sure to collect evidence from the scene. Take pictures of the vehicles, any skid marks, and other details such as roadway layout. This is also a good time to make sure that you get the names of potential eyewitnesses.

After an accident, a car may have minor or major body damage. Some may be completely inoperable. Insurance companies process damage assessment, provide rental cars during the pendency of a repair and settle damage claims. Contact your insurance provider to see what is allowable under your policy until the issues of fault and reimbursement are ironed out.

Accident victims may be overwhelmed by all the demands on their time and attention following an accident. In these cases, it is often wise to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to help explain the process.