Bright lights flashing. Loud voices. Exchanging numbers. No, this is not a description of a Hollywood club, but the scene after a car accident. Even a simple car accident can turn into a major headache as it often involves dealing with injuries, insurance companies, lawyers, and other parties remembering the chain of events slightly differently. Even for the innocent driver in the accident, there are certain steps one should always take directly following an accident.
Here are 11 key things to do after a car accident:
1. Make sure everyone is ok — before concerning yourself with vehicle damage and exchanging insurance information, make sure that all parties to the accident are ok. If not, call 911.
2. Save the apologies for another time — yes, politeness is an admirable trait, but in this situation, a simple “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” can be seen as an admission of liability.
3. Start talking — to witnesses, that is. Get all the relevant contact information of any bystanders that may have seen the accident.
4. Call your insurance company — report the incident to your insurance company, even if you are completely at fault. Also, keep track of the time and money spent pursuing your claim.
5. Take pictures — having proof of the damage to the car will help with insurance, and serve as evidence if there is a dispute down the line. One helpful tip is to always keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment for these situations.
6. Take notes — similar to pictures, detailing the accident and the nature of your injuries as soon as possible can serve to expedite the process.
7. Get a property damage figure from your insurance company — this evaluation will serve as the amount you can use to recover or replace your car. If you are not happy with the figure from your insurance company, seek outside quotes.
8. Careful who you talk to — if the other party’s insurance company contacts you, your best response is to get in touch with your insurance company or attorney. Why? Because they are better equipped to handle the situation.
9. Don’t automatically accept the first estimate or offer you get — jumping the gun on the settlement can be a costly mistake.
10. Get an attorney — if there is a dispute with your insurance company, or the seemingly simple car accident suddenly turns complicated, then seeking legal counsel is your best bet.
11. Take a deep breath, everything is going to be ok.
Keeping in mind these steps and tips will help solve some of the common problems associated with a car accident, and hopefully make the situation go away almost as fast as it came!