According to the United States Census Bureau, there were over Ten Million (10,000,000) motor vehicle accidents during the year 2008. Almost all of us in the Washington metro area drive or ride in a vehicle every single day.
But unless you have been one of these unfortunate people involved in an accident, you probably do not know what to do in the aftermath of a collision.
So this begs the question: “What do I do after a car accident?” The answer to this question can be broken down into three simple categories:
- Preparation Before the Accident
The first step to being prepared before an accident is to make sure your insurance information is in your glove compartment. Along with your insurance information, you should store a notepad, pen and disposable camera. The notepad and pen will be used to document all information. Do this at the scene because your memory will be fresh. The disposable camera will be used to take pictures of the damaged vehicles and the accident scene.
- Steps to Take at the Accident Scene
First, you should call the police. Make sure you have the name of the police officer (write it on the notepad you stashed in your glove compartment) and ensure the officer documents your version of the events that took place.
The next step always presents the question: “Should I move my car?!” Unless the vehicle is creating the potential for another accident, do not move it or the accident debris until you are instructed to do so by the police officer. If it is a minor accident and your vehicle poses a danger to oncoming traffic, then it is wise to move to the closest safe location.
After the police officer arrives you should exchange information with the other drivers involved. This information includes: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number. Remember to write on your notepad a description of how the accident occurred, the location, and a description of each vehicle. If there are any witnesses, write down their names, addresses and phone numbers. This is also a good time to take out your disposable camera and take pictures of the scene.
- After the Accident
It is very important that you promptly call your insurance company to report the accident. You might think it is wise to handle a minor accident without the insurance company, but this can quickly backfire! For example, the other driver could report the accident to his insurance company without your knowledge and claim injuries that weren’t evident at the accident scene. If this happens, his insurance company could come after you to cover the costs. You can prevent this terrible situation by promptly reporting your claim to your insurance company.
Finally, call a lawyer who is experienced in handling personal injury cases. Most lawyers handle accident injury cases on a contingent fee basis – that means they only get paid if you win.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call Paulson & Paulson, P.L.C. at our Virginia Beach office by dialing (757) 481-6600 or our Arlington office by dialing (571) 970-3317 or send us an email by clicking the button below.