6 Critical Steps to Take Immediately after a Car Accident
Despite the fact that car accidents in Indiana are a common occurrence–indeed, there are dozens of people injured in car accidents per day in our state–most people assume that it won’t happen to them. Especially for safe drivers, being involved in an accident can be shocking, and may lead to questions and worries about what happens next.
Despite the shock and upset you may be experiencing, acting rationally and responsibly in the immediate aftermath of a car accident is important. Here are six critical steps to take following a car accident–
- Check for Injuries and Move Your Vehicle (if possible) to a Safe Location
Before you do anything else after a crash, the very first thing you should do is to move your vehicle to a safe location if your vehicle is currently located in a dangerous location, such as the middle of the roadway, where it is at risk of being struck again. Then, make sure everyone in your vehicle and the vehicle of the other driver is okay. (If moving a vehicle is not necessary because its current location is not hazardous, do not move it. Vehicle positioning can be an important piece of evidence, providing insight into fault and negligence.)
- Call the Police and File an Accident Report
Regardless of whether or not anyone in either vehicle is injured–and especially if someone is injured–you need to call the police on the spot. If anyone is injured, the operator should guide you through what to do as you wait for police and emergency personnel to arrive.
When police arrive on scene, file an accident report. Tell the police what you believe happened, but do not hyperbolize details or make a declaration regarding either party’s fault. Be sure to record the officer’s badge number and name, and request a copy of the accident report for your records.
- Exchange Information with the Other Driver
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, take advantage of the time to exchange information with the other driver. You should ask for the other driver’s name, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance information, registration information, and contact information, and provide all of this information of yours to the other driver as well. Further, if there were any witnesses to the accident, you should also get their contact information, as well as a brief description about what they witnessed, too.
- Take Photos
If you have a smartphone or camera on you, take as many photos of the accident scene and damages as you can. This includes photos of property damage, both interior and exterior; injuries; vehicles’ positions, debris from the accident; skid marks or other indications of the wreck; weather; traffic signs; and any other relevant markings or evidence types.
- Seek Medical Care
If you are not transported to the hospital in an emergency vehicle from the scene of your accident and are given the go-ahead from police officers to leave, either in your own vehicle or via the vehicle of another, your first stop should be at the hospital or your doctor’s office. Some injuries, such as broken bones, are both obvious and require immediate treatment. Other injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, may not be immediately obvious, making seeking medical care and getting a proper diagnosis as soon as possible that much more important. Note also that if you fail to seek medical care in a timely manner and then later file an insurance claim for injuries, your insurer may doubt the authenticity of the injuries or that they were caused by the car accident.
- Tell Your Insurer
You must inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible after the accident, and preferably within 24 hours. If you do not give your insurance company proper notice, your claim may be denied. Review your policy for specific time limits; however, simply calling your insurer immediately after the crash is advised.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer in Fort Wayne
While calling a car accident lawyer is not a requirement after a car accident in Indiana, doing so is strongly recommended. A car accident lawyer can lead an investigation into the accident to determine fault, represent you in conversations with an insurance adjuster, and negotiate your settlement. What’s more, because car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you don’t have to worry about paying your lawyer’s fees out of pocket – your lawyer will collect a percentage of your settlement, and, if you don’t get paid, neither will your lawyer.
At the Delventhal Law Office, our Fort Wayne car accident lawyers are passionate about helping injury victims, and are happy to review your case free of charge today. Please send us a message or contact us by phone (260) 484-6655 to set up your first appointment.