More than 10 million car crashes occur in the U.S. each year, with over 36,000 of those crashes resulting in a death, including 58 in Vermont in 2020. In the unfortunate event that you’re involved in an accident, it’s important to know what steps to take afterward to ensure you’re able to collect the information that you’ll need to file a claim and deal with your insurance company.
Dealing with an accident begins immediately at the scene. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to never be involved in a car crash, but if you are, this guide can help you know what to do next. If you’ve been in a car crash recently, hopefully this guide can help serve as a checklist to ensure you’ve taken the steps you need to move forward smoothly.
Keeping a level head after an accident will make it easier to deal with the accident and what comes next. Car accidents can be incredibly frightening, but it’s important to try your best to remain calm.
Check yourself and your passengers for injuries before you exit your vehicle. If anyone appears to be injured, call 911 and report the injuries to the dispatcher. If you’re seriously injured, try not to move until help can get to you.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), you should clear the roadway if possible. Pull your car over to the shoulder if you can so that it’s out of the way of approaching and passing vehicles. If the accident occurred at night, turn on your car’s hazard lights so that other cars can see you. If you can’t move your vehicle, get yourself and anyone else involved in the accident to a safe spot away from the road and try to warn oncoming traffic of the accident if you’re uninjured.
If you’re not injured and you’re able to assess the damage to the vehicles, take time to do that. Try to take pictures showing the position of the cars if they haven’t been moved and the damage to each vehicle. If you can’t take pictures, then consider drawing a diagram to show how the accident occurred, while it is still fresh in your memory.
If the accident is serious, then the III recommends calling law enforcement to the scene. Police can create a report of the accident, which you can request a copy of for insurance purposes.
At a minimum, you need to exchange names and insurance information. But you could also try to get other useful information, including:
Car insurance is designed to protect you financially if you’re involved in an accident. However, insurance companies will almost always try to pay you significantly less than you’re actually owed or than what you need to cover all of your accident related expenses.
Whether it makes sense to file a claim can depend on:
Speaking to an attorney can help you decide what your best option is and can also provide you with an opportunity to ask any questions that might be on your mind. An attorney can also help clarify what expenses the insurance company is obligated to cover and can help provide advice about things like renting a car, dealing with medical bills, and how best to document your expenses so that they can be reimbursed by the insurance company.
Knowing what you should do following a car accident matters, but it’s also important to know what you shouldn’t do.
If you’re involved in an accident, here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid:
Finally, don’t forget to check your auto insurance premiums after any accident claims are resolved. It’s possible, but not guaranteed, that your premiums will increase. If your rates do go up after an accident, then you may want to compare coverage from other companies to see if you can find a better deal.
Hiring an attorney to negotiate your car accident claim costs you nothing.
Our team has built a reputation for compassionate and fierce advocacy on behalf of our clients. If you or someone you know has been the victim of someone else’s poor driving, including both drivers and passengers of a vehicle, you can reach Kramer Law by calling a 802-257-2221 or using our quick and easy contact form. We are also conveniently located in downtown Brattleboro at 42 Park Place if you would prefer to stop by.
As our client, we will take care of all of the legal, privacy and insurance related issues surrounding your case so that you are able to recover and work towards a brighter and better future.