There are at least six million vehicular accidents throughout the United States annually. Most car accidents only damage property, but one-third of accidents involve a physical injury to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. Of that one-third, two of every 10 accidents will lead to fatal injuries. If you are in a car accident, there are certain steps to make to protect you and your loved ones. In this article, you’ll learn a few of the most important actions to take immediately after an accident.
First, never leave the scene of an accident, however minor. You need to prevent any additional accidents. Do this by setting up flares or turning on your vehicle’s flashers. Use a flashlight when entering and exiting the car if it is dark because this helps make you more visible to other drivers. Vehicles should stay where they were when the accident happened unless it is unsafe or blocks traffic. Next, call the police. You will likely need a police report to file any claims with your auto insurance provider. This is true even if you only file a damage claim.
Begin recording accurate details of the accident while it is fresh in your mind. Tell the investigating officer what took place or what you do and do not know. Never speculate, make guesses, or alter facts. If you are unsure whether you are injured, make sure to say that you are unsure rather than saying no. Pain and injuries after accidents can take a few hours after the accident to show symptoms. Make sure that other statements from passengers or other drivers are also accurate.
Take photos of any damage or injuries if you can safely do so. Make sure not to interfere with the police investigation, however. If you cannot take photos at the time of the accident, do so immediately when you can. These could be important for legal or insurance purposes. Next, exchange information with any other drivers involved in the accident. Police will usually take down this information. The most important details are other drivers’ names, addresses, and phone numbers. Get this information from any passengers, too.
Ask for an insurance card for any vehicles involved in the accident, so you can get information about other drivers’ insurance policies. Get the contact information of any witnesses. Police will often provide everyone with a police report number so that they can all access police records of the incident. If the state police take down the report, make sure to contact them for records.
Alert your insurance company as soon as you can. Policies often require full cooperation and immediate reporting on your end. Ask your insurance company for a copy of your declarations page and see whether you have medical payments coverage. Medical payments coverage is coverage you can use whenever you’re injured in any type of motor vehicle accident (even if you are not in your own car). The coverage applies regardless of who is at fault. Your carrier will be responsible for your medical expenses up to the amount of whatever limit is applicable to your medical payments coverage. You can use your med pay coverage to pay deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance after your medical bills are submitted to your health insurance. It is smart to have your bills submitted to your health insurer first and your auto medical insurance second as this system will lessen the risk that you have out-of-pocket exposure. Both your health insurer and auto insurer may have an interest in being repaid for the benefits they pay out on your behalf in the event that someone else caused the accident.
If you may be seriously injured, seek immediate medical attention. People often do not feel the full pain and damage of an accident for a couple of days. Even minor accidents can cause serious, potentially permanent injuries to the spinal cord. If you were confused, dazed, or knocked unconscious for any length of time at all, you could have a closed head injury or a concussion. These are serious medical conditions that can cause major cognitive problems if left untreated.