Car accidents can be a frightening experience. However, they are relatively commonplace. One car collision happens every minute, and most people will file a car crash claim once every 17 years or so. If you’re a new driver, or you haven’t experienced a car accident before, it may be difficult to know exactly what to do. Here are some helpful steps to take if you find yourself in a collision.
Step 1: Check Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
The first thing to do after a car accident is to check yourself and any passengers for injuries. If anyone has sustained any serious damage, from a cut to a concussion, call 911. It is often difficult to determine more serious injuries, such as internal bleeding, unless you’re a trained professional. Even if you are a trained professional, you could be in shock after the crash. Make sure you and your passenger get medical treatment for any injuries.
Step 2: Move Your Car
If you are well enough to move, try to move your vehicle out of the way of oncoming traffic. The last thing you want is another distracted driver running into you or your vehicle after your collision. If you can’t move your car, or you’re unable to move at all, put on your hazard lights.
Step 3: Check on Any Other Drivers
For a multi-vehicle collision, check on other drivers if you are able to move around. If you can’t move around, or the other drivers are seriously injured, call 911. Don’t move anyone with a serious neck or back injury. Wait for medical professionals to arrive. However, if you are able to reach the people in the car, try to stem any profuse bleeding that you notice by applying a hard pressure to the area with a shirt, towel, or jacket.
Step 4: Take Pictures of All Damage
In less severe collisions, try to take as much documentation of the full extent of the damage as you can. This includes damages to all cars involved. Likewise, if you can photograph your injuries, do so. You can use these pictures as evidence when you file a claim with your car insurance.
Step 5: Exchange Information or Give a Statement
In a smaller collision, you will have to exchange personal contact information and insurance information with any other drivers. Try to collect their insurance info, driver license number, license plate number, and type of vehicle. If a police officer is there, he or she will document all aspects of the accident, including the personal and insurance info of all involved. You will need to provide a statement about the collision, either at the scene or later at the police station. This statement and the police report filed about the incident will be looked at later by all insurance companies involved.
Step 6: See a Doctor
If you weren’t taken to the hospital after your collision, see your doctor as soon as possible. Physical injuries sometimes won’t manifest for hours or even days after a car accident. However, if you later need to file a claim for damage sustained during the crash, your visit to the doctor could be used to prove your injury is as severe as you assert.
Step 7: File a Claim
Many insurance companies require you to call them as soon as you get into an accident. Depending on your policy and your insurance company, they will either handle all claims for you or ask you to file a claim directly with the at-fault driver (if there was an at-fault driver). If your auto insurance ends up paying for your medical bills, lost wages, and rental car, they will typically charge the at-fault driver’s company. However, it is best to review your policy and understand how filing a claim with them works in the event of an accident.
Step 8: Hire a Lawyer
While you may not need a lawyer in a crystal clear case of at-fault driving, such as a collision with a drunk driver, in some cases an insurance company will be reluctant to pay for the extent of damage and injuries. They might reject your claim on any number of excuses. However, having an experienced Durham car accident attorney on your side might make them less inclined to pick a fight. Likewise, they might be more forthcoming with any settlements you may be seeking for medical bills, lost wages, future medical bills, and future lost wages. If they do end up rejecting your claim, a lawyer can help you file an appeal and represent you in court.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, make sure you have an experienced representative on your side. Talk to one of our skilled Durham personal injury attorneys at Hyland + Padilla PLLC for a free case consultation. Let us help you seek compensation for your wounds. You shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Contact us at (919) 590-0099 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.