No matter how careful you are while driving on the roads, there is always the possibility that you will get into a car accident. After a traffic accident, serious or minor, you will likely feel a concoction of emotions, including fear, shock, and even rage. Here are the top three things you should do after a car accident.
Evaluate the situation
The first thing you want to do after a car accident is evaluate the situation. If anyone is injured, you should call not only the police but also an ambulance to the scene. Call the police if the damage is significant or if the other party is acting confrontational. If you want to be able to provide your insurance company with an official report, you may want to call the police even if the damage is minor and all parties are cooperating.
Document the crash
In most states, you only need to know the name and insurance information of the other drivers involved. However, it is recommended that you document the crash as much as possible. Use your smartphone to take photos of the damage as well as to capture the insurance cards of the other parties involved.
Try asking to see the license of the other driver to confirm his or her identity. If the driver refuses, get a picture of the driver as you take photos of the damage. You can use this photo as proof that the driver was involved in the accident. Some insurance companies offer policyholders free smartphone apps to help them document crashes. For most smartphone apps, all the evidence that you upload will be emailed to both you and an agent.
If you don't have a smartphone or can't use an app for whatever reason, you should diagram the set-up of the scene and take notes about the accident, such as contact information, names, and the direction each vehicle was driving.
Protect your rights
Of course, the insurance claims process will be based on the coverage held by the parties and which party was determined to be at fault for the accident. If you were at fault for the accident, your bodily injury liability coverage will cover the medical bills of the other drivers, for example.
Even if the issue of fault is straightforward, the goal of insurance companies is to pay out the least that it can on each claim. Since these companies do not have your best interests at heart, it is wise to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your losses.