Even the safest drivers on the road are at risk of having a car crash. Each year, over 2.35 million people are injured or disabled after an accident. That means millions of people annually are stuck dealing with pain and hospital bills, often because of someone else’s reckless driving.
If you’ve found yourself the victim of a car accident – or you just want to prepare in case this happens – here are the first steps you should take.
1) Exchange information with the other driver
Don’t let the other driver get away before you have a chance to swap insurance information. In most states, you’ll need their information to file an insurance claim to prove the accident happened.
After the collision, move your car over to the shoulder of the road if it’s possible and safe to do so. Talk to the other driver and try to get:
- The driver’s name
- The driver’s phone number & address
- The vehicle owner’s name (if it’s not the driver)
- The license plate number
- The make, model, and color of the car
- The name of the insurance company & the other driver’s policy number
2) See a doctor
Once contact details have been exchanged, you should immediately seek a medical evaluation, even if you think you don’t need one. Seriously.
The trauma caused by a car accident isn’t always visible right away. It’s possible to feel totally fine and still have internal injuries. Your body uses a rush of adrenaline to suppress the perception of pain – which gives your “fight or flight” response a chance to get you to safety. It can take a full day before you start feeling the aftereffects of an impact, but you should still see a doctor right away.
Doctors can check for internal bleeding, concussions, soft tissue injuries, and other problems you may not notice right away. Furthermore, an official medical evaluation right after the accident will be handy for an insurance claim or if you take your case to court.
3) Talk to a personal injury lawyer
Chances are you’re facing huge medical bills or repair costs after a serious collision. Even with the best private coverage, insurance companies may try to wiggle their way out of paying what you need.
They have tricks to do this: dumping you with mountains of complicated paperwork, stonewalling you over the phone, challenging your claim, and using their full-time lawyers to find legal loopholes that mitigate their financial responsibility.
That’s why a lawyer on your side is so hugely beneficial. They know the filing process, understand the law, and help you negotiate with your insurance in accordance with local laws and regulations. If you consult Dennis Hernandez after a crash, you won’t be stuck with the daunting task of navigating the claims process.
4) Get your car inspected
Just like you got yourself inspected by a medical professional for hidden damage, you should also get your car assessed. Mechanics know what to look for after a car accident, so they can find structural problems that aren’t always obvious. The mechanic’s report is also an important piece of documentation that will help you in filing an insurance claim.
For example, older, classic cars may come out of a crash without a scratch or dent on them. You may think that’s a sign there was no damage, but it just means the impact of the crash may have been absorbed by the undercarriage or chassis. Driving a car with a damaged frame is hugely unsafe even if it looks pristine, so talk to a professional who can diagnose the damage and tell you what it would cost to fix.