Being in a car accident can be a stressful time for you and your family. Insurance companies can be very difficult to deal with, and you might be without a car or injured and unable to work. Here are some things you should after you’ve been in an accident, and some things you should not do.
What to do after you’ve been in an accident:
- Make sure you are safe. The first thing you should do is make sure you and the other driver and any passengers involved are okay. If you are able to, move your car to the side of the road and put your hazard lights on so other drivers are aware.
- Stay at the scene. Do not leave the scene of the accident, even if you feel it was a minor accident.
- Take photos. If your cell phone has a camera, use it to take as many pictures as you can. Try to get as much detail as possible. As a tip, we recommend keeping a disposable camera in your glove box as a back up.
- Call the police. You and the other driver may feel that the damage is minimal and that you do not need to file a police report. If there is substantial damage or any serious injuries, call the police to file a police report.
- Exchange information. Talk with the other driver and exchange important information like names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers. Also get any names and phone numbers of passengers and witnesses.
- Don’t overreact. Whether or not you or the other driver was at fault, it is important to not overreact when speaking with the other driver. Just try to get the necessary information you need. If the other driver becomes unreasonable, you can call the police and have them speak to the other driver.
- Don’t admit guilt. Even saying something like “I’m sorry” (even if it wasn’t your fault) can be seen as an admission of guilt. It’s better to stay completely neutral while speaking with the other driver.
- Write down what happened. Try to write down what you can remember leading up to the accident, what you believe caused the accident, and anything that happens after. It can be hard to recall specific details days, weeks, and months afterwards, so writing down everything accurately can help.
- Tell your insurance company. You have to call your insurance company and let them know you were in an accident. Be honest when explaining what happened. They will investigate the accident, and if they find out that you lied they could potentially deny your claim.
- See a doctor. If you were involved in a minor car accident, you might feel that you are okay and don’t need to see a doctor. Hopefully you are not injured, but injuries might not show symptoms for a day or two after the accident. If you or any passengers hit your head during the accident, it is very important to visit a doctor to make sure no one suffered a concussion.
- Keep track of doctor’s visits and medical treatment. It is a good idea to keep a file with all documents, notes, photos, doctor’s visits, and any medical treatment you may receive. This will keep you organized and make it much easier when you are dealing with the insurance company.
- Call an attorney. An attorney can help you navigate all this, especially dealing with the insurance company who may not have your best interests in mind. An attorney can also help you get a fair compensation for any damage or injuries sustained from the accident.
ESR Law Group is Chicago’s personal injury law firm. We represent clients in personal injury, medical malpractice, and Workers’ Compensation cases. Contact our office today for a free case consultation.