If you are involved in a car accident, your life can change in a moment. You may suffer physical or emotional injuries, and will likely have damage to your vehicle and other personal property. Below is a list of things to do after a accident.
What to Do After A Car Accident:
- Stop and Assess the Situation – Move your car to a safe location if you can, but be careful to not leave the scene. You can be charged with a hit and run if you drive away (even if the accident was not your fault).
- Check all Drivers and Passengers – Check to see if anyone is hurt, and call 911 for medical assistance.
- Call the Police – Even in minor accidents, a police accident report can help in dealing with your insurance company and other drivers. If the police can’t make it to the scene, you can file an accident report through the DMV.
- Exchange Information – You and the other driver should show each other your driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. Write down as much as possible, including driver and passenger names, license plate numbers, insurance info, makes and models of all vehicles involved, and the location of the accident.
- Talk to Witnesses – Get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Ask them to stay and talk to the CHP or police. If they can’t or won’t, ask them to tell you what they saw and write everything down.
- Notify Your Insurance Company – You are required to to report all collisions to your insurance company. If you don’t, and the other driver does, their insurance company could contact yours in the process of settling the claim (even if you’ve already paid out of pocket for the damages yourself).
- Seek Medical Treatment – See a doctor immediately. Often injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not readily apparent. You may feel fine now, but start to have symptoms days later. Keep detailed records on all injury related symptoms, medical visits, treatments, and expenses (including travel).
- Document and Take Photos – Document important details with notes and pictures. Make notes, too, on weather and road conditions. Be sure to also record the exact date, time and place of the accident.
- Use Caution in Discussing the Incident – Practice what to say after an accident to avoid inadvertently claiming responsibility. For example, telling the other driver “I’m sorry” could be viewed as an admission that the accident was your fault. It is best to say as little as possible, outside of asking if the other driver is OK and exchanging personal information. However, be sure to cooperate with the police officer investigation the case, and stick to the facts.
- Protect Your Rights – It’s a good idea to be skeptical of any offers an insurance adjuster makes, especially early in your case. Insurance companies may use tactics to delay, deny or minimize the amount of damages payable to the injured party. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights, and maximize your recovery if you’re injured.
An accident can turn your life upside down. Knowing how to respond, and having a knowledgeable Oakland car accident attorney by your side, can help ease the stress and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries.