What Information Should be Exchanged After a Car Accident?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
We have come to rely on cars in nearly every aspect of our lives. We use them to take the kids to school, to get to work, go shopping, and of course for leisure time. But cars and roads are also inherently dangerous. There are an average of six million accidents and three million injuries in the U.S. every year, with more than 90 people dying every single day.
When we are involved in an accident, we tend to be in shock for the first few minutes if not longer. When that shock begins to clear, what should we think about doing?
The Steps to Take After Auto Accidents
Let’s assume you have just been in an accident and that your injuries – if any – are minor. What steps should you take in the aftermath of any accident?
- Check to see if any of your passengers have been injured. Then check to see if anyone else involved in the crash has been injured.
- If there are injuries, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Also report the accident to police and ask for them to attend.
- If possible, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic. Move it to the side of the road or to any off-road space available such as a parking lot. See if you can help move any other vehicles involved too. Prior to doing so, photograph and video the accident scene.
- Remain calm at all times. Depending on who was to blame for the accident, tempers may be running high. Avoid confrontation at all costs.
- Gather together the parties involved. Exchange information including names, phone numbers, and license plate numbers. Ask to see the insurance card of other involved parties. Make sure you have all necessary contact and insurance information to pass to your own insurance company if needed.
- If there were any extraneous factors that contributed to the accident, record them too. This could include bad signage, weather conditions, or any obstructions on the road.
- It is also a good idea to collect contact information from any bystanders, other drivers, or pedestrians who witnessed the accident.
- If there has been any property damaged by the accident, take photographs of the damage.
- Once police officers have attended and taken details, ask them for their names and badge numbers. This will make it easier when requesting a copy of their police report.
- If any driver who was involved has done a hit and run, ask any witnesses for details they remember. One person may remember the make of car, another may remember a partial number plate. Collating information may help police find the guilty party.
What to Do Later
The ten steps above list the crucial things you should do at the scene of the accident. But what action should you be taking later?
- Keep a detailed record of any medical treatment you receive if you suffered a personal injury in the crash. This will be essential for any insurance claim you make to cover medical bills. As well as any initial treatment, this has to include ongoing treatment as well as any rehabilitation or physical therapy services you need. The most common injury suffered in car accidents is whiplash. Sometimes, whiplash symptoms may not fully manifest until several days after the actual incident. Always ask a doctor to examine you after a crash, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. Whiplash is also a very common factor in fraudulent insurance claims so having a strong paper trail as evidence is very important.
- When it comes to car repairs – or repairs to any damaged property – do not obtain only one quote. The minimum number of quotes you should get is two (though three is optimum).
- Be wary of discussing the case. There are only three “people” you should talk to about the accident; your lawyer if you have engaged one, the police, and your insurance company.
- Consider any initial settlements carefully. Let’s be honest here; insurance companies do not like paying out money. So the first offer they make may be a lowball offer that does not fully cover your costs. Think very carefully when that first offer is made and talk to an auto accident attorney if they will not move from that.
In any accident, it is important that you gather as much information as you can. While your priority in the initial aftermath of the accident is to make sure there are no serious injuries, information gathering can help your insurance claim – or any claim against another driver if they were more than 50% liable – can help resolve matters quickly.
Here at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. we have extensive experience of dealing with car-related incidents, from negotiating with your insurance company to any necessary litigation. We offer a free initial appointment to all potential clients and you can schedule one today by calling 866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.