Accidents are inevitable. No one plans for it to happen or knows when it might, but accidents are real and you never know when you might find yourself in one. Hopefully, it’ll be something minor, where no one is hurt and the insurance can sort it out, but for those more serious accidents, it can be hard to keep track of everything going on, especially if you’ve been injured. The first thing you need to do is try to stay calm. As long as you’re calm, you can make sure you take care of everything you need to do in order to protect yourself from getting stuck footing the bill. Here are the steps you’ll want to take when in an accident where injuries are involved.
1. Call The Police
Before anything else, call the police to get a police report, and possibly an ambulance if necessary. Give the officers as much information as you can about the location of the accident and vehicles involved, as well as any other possible injuries the other party may be suffering from. Getting a police report is probably one of, if not the most important step. A police report ensures there is an objective account of the events from an authoritative source. This gives insurance companies a reference to work off of if there are conflicting statements from multiple drivers. The report will also list the complaints and injuries of all involved parties, that way if anyone mysteriously pops up claiming injury and involvement who wasn’t originally there, the police report can reference that.
2. Check on the Other Drivers and Take Photos
With the police called, make sure the other parties are alright and while you’re there, take photos of the license plates and insurance information. Offer your insurance information to those willing to provide theirs, but if anyone refuses to provide their information, don’t worry too much about it and don’t fight them on it. The police will get all of that information down and provide it in the report once complete. The important part is to get photos of the license plates and possibly damages if you’re physically capable. If you’re too injured to leave the vehicle, or trapped in your car, take what photos you can from where you are.
3. Call Your Insurance
Once all that is taken care of, call your insurance and start the claims process. They’ll take you through some basic questions like where the accident occurred, a brief description of the accident, and information about all vehicles involved. Answer as best you can, and try to provide as many important details like the make and model of cars involved, points of impact, and how many others are involved, along with potential injuries. Don’t worry if you can’t get everything in on the first call, a claims specialist will follow up with you within the first 24 hours after an accident to gather more information and go over a detailed account of the accident. The important part here is to get the claims process started.
4. Seek Legal Counsel
While it may not always be necessary, it is often a good idea to retain an injury lawyer if you have any kind of suspicion that the claim might take a sideways turn. If any drivers fled the scene, if one driver changes their story or if there are extensive injuries on any of the involved parties, or if people who weren’t initially at the scene start crawling out of the woodwork, seek legal counsel immediately. Your insurance usually has a legal department which helps with matters like these as well, but having your own attorney can help assist your insurance legal department, and might be able to utilize other resources or have more time available to work on your case than your insurance company’s legal team.
5. Keep Records of Everything
As time passes, details get fuzzy and sometimes you don’t always remember exactly how things happened, or forget which vehicles were involved where. Most insurance companies take recorded statements from each party involved, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your own records regarding the accident. Make a folder or two for anything related to the accident, one for the medical side of things (doctors bills, medical coverages, etc) and one for the auto side of things (damages, details about the accident, inspection notes and estimates).
Injury claims can sometimes take years to fully resolve, as it can be difficult to estimate a final value on continuing treatment, as well as putting a value on pain and suffering caused along with other incidentals. Keeping detailed records will help make sure you keep up with any deadlines you need to keep in regards to sending documents to your insurance company and the like.
Henry Lares is still early into his career as tech reporter but has already had his work published in many major publications including Tech Crunch and the Huffington Post. In regards to academics, Henry earned an engineering degree from Apex Technical School. Henry has a passion for emerging technology and covers upcoming products and breakthroughs in science and tech.