Being involved in a car accident is a harrowing experience. In the moments immediately following the collision, it is understandable to not know what to do. However, the actions that you take immediately following the accident can have a significant effect on your physical health and financial burden. Here are five steps to take after you experience a vehicular collision.
Pull Over and Assess Injuries
The first thing to do if you get into an accident is to get out of the line of traffic if at all possible. Be sure to turn on your hazard lights to alert other motorists. Once you are out of traffic, you can begin to assess injuries. If there are any type of potential injuries that are presenting, it is vital that you call 911 immediately.
Remember that some injuries are not apparent right away. If you are able to get out of your vehicle safely, you can check on the other occupants to make sure that they are not in need of medical attention.
Exchange Auto Insurance Information and Make Pleasantries
Regardless of if you decide to call authorities, it is important to exchange auto insurance information. This is for your protection. Your insurance company will need the other driver’s contact information and insurance data so that the two companies can decide who will pay for the damages.
Taking a picture of both sides of their insurance card will ensure that you have all of the relevant information that you need to proceed. It is also a good idea to remind yourself to keep a cool demeanor when engaging with the other party. You will not do yourself any favors if you are combative off of the bat.
File a Police Report
Different states have varying rules regarding how soon after an accident a report must be filed. Many police departments allow you to file an official report for up to 72 hours following the accident. This allows you time to regroup and get all of the information together.
If you are not aware of the ins and outs of your particular state, it is better to err on the side of caution and file a report right away. In addition to a police report, some states also require that you report the accident to the department of motor vehicles.
Take Photos and Gather Witnesses
While you are waiting for the police to arrive on the scene, it is a good idea to use your smartphone to take pictures of the scene. Be sure to take photos of both your vehicle and the other car. Be sure to include pictures of the license plates, the view of the street, and any relevant signage.
This is particularly important if you believe that you are not at fault for the collision. Even if you believe that you will remember all of the details, it is not uncommon for all of this information to become fuzzy once you remove yourself from the scene of the accident.
If there are witnesses to the crash, be sure to get their names and contact information as well. Eyewitness accounts can be extremely valuable when trying to argue your case in the court of law.
Consult the Professionals
If the insurance negotiations are not agreeable to you, it is important that you consult the professionals for legal assistance. Do not try to take matters into your own hands. Consulting the service of a trained Houston personal injury lawyer will ensure that you are not taken advantage of as a result of the accident.
When it comes to messy insurance negotiations, you want somebody on your side who will champion your cause. A personal injury lawyer can serve you and all of your needs so that you are not left without a strong advocate to walk you through this unfamiliar situation.
Even if it is just a minor fender bender, being involved in a car accident can be a stressful situation. You are likely to feel disoriented and confused as you figure out how to handle the immediate details of the situation. Having a plan in place will ensure that you act with your best interest in mind.