The moments during and after a serious car accident are often a total blur, especially if you are the victim of another driver’s negligence. But knowing what to do after an accident is crucial to getting the medical care and compensation you need to make a full recovery. To help you take the steps you need to, Bavagnoli & Bavagnoli created this simple checklist you can keep on hand. And remember, if you have been in an accident but skipped some of these steps, a Passaic County car accident lawyer may be able to help.
Step 1: See if anyone is injured.
If you can tell immediately that you are injured, stay put and call 911 if you are able to, or ask a passenger who is not injured to make the call for you. If you are unsure whether you are injured, you’ll still want to get medical help.
Step 2: Move your vehicle to safety.
If your vehicle is in an unsafe location but is still safe to drive, pull over to the side of the road. If it is not obstructing traffic, causing a hazard, or vulnerable to being hit, leave it where it is and make sure you are safe. This will ensure that the police report is as accurate as possible. At this point, turn on your hazard lights and wait for help. If you have road flares, use them to alert passing vehicles to slow down.
Step 3: Call the local police.
Even if you have been in a minor fender-bender, it is still crucial to call the local police. Under New Jersey law, if a crash results in injuries, death, or property or vehicle damage of more than $500, you must file a police report. The police will document the accident scene and complete an accident report. You will need your copy of the report when you file your insurance claim, so put your copy somewhere safe.
Step 4: Exchange information with the other driver.
There are several key pieces of information you should exchange with the driver of the other vehicle, including:
- Full name
- Contact information
- Insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Make, color, and model of your vehicle and the other vehicle.
As you do this, don’t discuss who was at fault for the accident, even if you are innocent. The police report and other documentation and evidence collected from the scene will be used by the insurance adjuster to determine fault.
Step 5: Document the accident scene.
Take pictures of your vehicle from a variety of angles to show the entirety of the damage. Also take a photo of the other vehicle, including the license plate. When the police arrive, write down their names and badge numbers. Record the names and contact information of any witnesses you speak to. Gathering documentation will help the insurance adjuster when they review your claim.
Step 6: Visit the emergency room or your doctor.
Even if you are unsure whether or not you are injured or feel that your injuries aren’t serious, get medical attention right away. Injuries like internal bleeding can be incredibly serious even if you cannot see them. Other injuries might not become evident until later, or will need to be diagnosed by a doctor. If you fail to visit a doctor, it will also be easier for the other driver to contest your injuries and your claim, which could make it difficult to recover from your accident.
Step 7: Call a lawyer.
After an accident, a lawyer can help you better negotiate with your insurance company and value your injuries. They can also provide advice about how to receive fair compensation from an insurer. If you are struggling to negotiate with an insurance adjuster, a lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, which often solves the problem. It is often best not to talk to your insurer until after you have consulted with a lawyer.
Step 8: Contact your insurer.
When speaking to an insurance company, answer their questions but don’t give additional information that you are not asked for. Insurance companies have many tactics they rely on to minimize the amount of compensation they provide to victims, and you want to protect yourself. Otherwise you could end up without the compensation you need to make a full recovery.
If you have been in an accident, this checklist will get you started toward receiving fair compensation for your injuries. If you need legal help, or want to learn more about your rights, get in touch with a Passaic County car accident lawyer.
For a free consultation, contact Bavagnoli & Bavagnoli at (973) 785-9522.