Unfortunately it will happen to 10 million people in the United States this year alone: an unexpected auto accident. Fortunately, according to the U.S. Census Bureau figures, most traffic accidents are nonfatal. What do you do when you are involved in an automobile accident, regardless of who was at fault?
The following is a short checklist of steps to take immediately after an accident to protect yourself and your best interests:
- Make the call: As soon as you can safely pull over, notify the authorities, particularly if anyone is injured. Even if no one is hurt, call anyway. It is not against the law to simply exchange information, and it may be helpful to have law enforcement involved as an impartial party, and to prepare a formal report. Most insurance companies also want a copy of an official accident report to process a claim;
- Collect information: Your first priority is to exchange personal information and insurance details after the accident. But do not stop there - put your cellphone to use and take photographs of any property damage, as well as the scene of the accident. If witnesses are present, also exchange information with them, being sure to obtain their full name, phone number, and address. Your insure may need to speak with them if the details of the accident are called into question.
- Keep your cool: Although you might be rattled after a car accident, try to stay calm. Do not get angry, comment about who is at fault, or apologize - just focus on exchanging contact information, cooperating with
authorities, and documenting the circumstances of the crash; and
- Contact your insurer: Notify your own insurance company the accident right away while the details are still fresh in your mind. Initiate a claim as soon as possible, even if another driver was responsible for the collision.
Even if you do not think your injuries are serious at first, keep in mind that conditions can worsen over time. To learn more about your legal option after an auto accident, consult the experienced attorneys at Gardner & Rans P.C. today at 574-233-6035.