What to Do After a Car Accident?
Car accidents can be awful and stressful experiences. Knowing what to do after a car accident is crucial; whether it’s a fender-bender or a more severe one, staying calm and focused is essential.
After a car accident, you should first check for your injuries and move to a safe place. Next, exchange information with the other party(s) involved in the accident. Next, report the accident to the police, take pictures, talk to witnesses, and gather on-site evidence. Lastly, contact your insurer and a car accident lawyer.
Steps to Take After A Car Accident
According to the Insurance Information Institute, knowing what to do at the scene of the accident can not only help you file an insurance claim but also help you succeed in getting a fair settlement. Therefore, make sure to follow these simple steps for your safety and well-being after a car crash.
Step 1: Check for Any Injuries
Take a moment to check yourself and those around you for any injuries, such as senior citizens, kids, other drivers, and passengers. Your top priority should be to make sure that you and everyone else is fine. If you find someone hurt, don’t hesitate to call 911 for immediate medical help.
Step 2: Move to a Safe Location
Always move yourself to a safe location to avoid any dangers. Ensure you pull over to the side of the road or a safe area, and make sure you’re completely clear of any oncoming motor vehicles. If you can access hazard lights or reflective emergency triangles, use them to alert other drivers.
If there’s a risk of an explosion or any other prominent danger, swiftly escort everyone from the vehicle to a secure location away from the road. Moreover, if your vehicle is no longer moving after an accident, don’t be shy to ask for help and consider getting it towed to a repair shop.
Step 3: Call the Police
It’s essential to call the nearest police station to file an accident report, no matter how minor it may seem. The police report can be used for insurance claims and legal purposes.
Additionally, don’t forget to ask for the police officer’s name and badge number. You can provide this information to your insurance company to prove your accident.
Step 4: Exchange Information
It’s important to exchange contact and insurance information with other parties involved in a car accident. Make sure to gather this information:
- The full name of the other driver(s) and their phone number(s)
- Address and contact number of the other driver’s insurance company
- License plate number and driving license number
- Type, make, and model of the vehicle
- Location of the car crash
In addition, make sure that while exchanging information with other drivers, always stick to the facts and don’t discuss fault. This can lead to disputes between you and the other parties involved. Instead, be patient and wait for your insurance adjuster who will do the proper and thorough investigation of your car crash by carefully analyzing the documentation and evidence you and the other driver(s) provide.
Step 5: Gather Evidence
Take pictures and dashcam video footage of your accident scene. Also, collect evidence of the vehicle damage from every possible angle, the condition of the road, and any wrong street and traffic signs. Additionally, if there are people who witnessed the situation, ensure to get their complete names and contact details. All this evidence can help you secure fair compensation and prove your accident claim.
Step 6: Seek Medical Attention
It is essential to visit your doctor after an accident, even if you think your injuries are minor. Moreover, some injuries may not initially show symptoms but could be severe. Getting prompt medical treatment ensures your health and recovery is important.
Furthermore, when you take medical care, you get the documentation that proves your injuries and helps you with future insurance claims or legal proceedings.
Step 7: Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, you can face a lot of rejections from the insurance company to receive fair compensation for your damages. In such cases, hiring an experienced lawyer specializing in car accidents can be helpful. A skilled attorney can understand the legal documents, deal with the insurance company on your behalf, and ensure you get the right compensation you deserve.
Step 8: File a Claim With the Insurance Company
It is essential to report the accident to your insurance company so that you can make a claim. Similarly, you’ve to inform the other driver’s insurer as soon as possible and start the claims process.
For this purpose, if you’re at the accident scene, you can directly call your insurance agent by using your insurer’s mobile app. This way, you can stay in touch with them, and they can tell you exactly what they need to file your claim.
Additionally, ensure to provide the insurance companies with all the correct information and cooperate fully with them for a quick resolution of your auto insurance claim.
Step 9: Report Your Accident to DMV
After a car crash, you can also check the website of your local Department of Local Vehicles (DMV) to report a car accident. In most cases, the police officer will submit the accident report to the DMV on your behalf. However, if they do not, or if the accident was minor and not investigated by the police, you may need to complete a Report of Traffic Accident (SR-1) form available on the DMV’s website or at a local DMV office.
If required, submit the SR-1 form to the DMV within ten days of the accident. This ensures that the car crash is properly documented for future reference.
Step 10: Have a Proactive Mindset
When dealing with car accidents, a proactive mindset is your lifesaver. Never forget to wear your seatbelt because it can reduce the risk of injuries, even minor ones.
It’s also crucial to stay focused and alert while driving. Avoid distractions such as texting or using your phone. Keep a proper and safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, and obey traffic laws and speed limits.
Additionally, regularly maintain your vehicle to ensure it’s in good operating condition, including checking the brakes, tires, and lights. In addition, always keep your insurance card and driver’s license with you.
Things You Should Remember While Filing a Claim After a Car Accident
Filing a claim with the insurance company after an auto accident can be critical in recovering the damages and losses you have incurred. Taking the right approach during this process can make a big difference in the outcome of your claim.
It’s essential to notify your insurance company about the car accident ASAP. Most insurance companies have a claims reporting hotline that is available 24/7. Moreover, make sure to provide accurate and detailed information about the incident, including the date, time, location, and a brief description of what happened.
Additionally, provide documented proof of the damages you’ve experienced. This will help strengthen your claim.
It is vital to gather relevant documentation so that the insurance company can’t deny your claim. You will need to collect evidence, such as:
- The police report
- Images of the accident scene and any damage to the car
- Contact details of any witnesses
- License plate numbers of other vehicles involved
- Medical records in case of injury
When you’re dealing with the insurance company, you shouldn’t admit fault or make any assumptions about the accident. Because these statements can be used against you by the at-fault party’s attorney.
Furthermore, in some cases, when the insurance adjuster reviews your claim, they will propose an initial settlement offer. Take the time to think about whether this settlement offer can cover all your losses. If you feel the offer is insufficient, you can deny it and let your car accident lawyer sort it out with the insurance adjusters and get maximum compensation.
What Happens After I File My Claim?
After you file your claim, you can receive a confirmation of your claim submission. The insurance company will call you, text, and email you to confirm the successful submission of your claim. With this confirmation, your insurance company will give you a reference number or case identifier, which you must save carefully for future reference.
After this, your insurance department will assign an insurance adjuster to your case. This insurance adjuster will investigate your case and find out who is responsible for the accident if the liability is doubtful. They will also review your policy to understand your coverage limits and any applicable deductibles.
Once liability is established, the next step is to estimate the cost of repairs or medical expenses. Your insurance company may select repair shops or medical providers that you can choose from, or you can provide your own estimates.
In some cases, insurers will ask you for additional documents and evidence to support your claim. Therefore, be prepared to respond promptly to any requests from the relevant authorities or organizations.
In the meantime, to track the status of your insurance claim, you’ve to check your email, mailbox, or online portal for updates and notifications. Furthermore, you can contact the at-fault party’s insurance agency to inquire about the progress and expected timeframes.
How Does the Insurance Payout Work After a Car Accident?
The insurance payout entirely depends upon who is at fault for the accident. You can consider these two scenarios:
1. When the Other Driver Is at Fault
If you are not at fault, the other driver’s insurance is responsible for your expenses, and you can make a claim with their insurance company. If there’s a liability dispute, the adjusters from both sides will investigate and negotiate until they reach an agreement.
However, if you live in a no-fault state such as New York, your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will usually cover your medical bills and other losses.
Also, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you must check your insurance policy for uninsured/underinsured coverage (UM). In such cases, UM coverage will cover all your medical expenses if you have it.
2. When You’re Partially at Fault
In case you are at fault or partially at fault, your own insurance can cover your car damages, medical expenses, and injuries to the other drivers and their passengers, depending on your insurance policy’s terms. However, your insurance coverage doesn’t cover the injuries of your passengers.
There may be instances where the other driver’s attorney will shift the whole blame on you or may try to offer you less settlement than you actually deserve, hence leading to insurance disputes. That’s why it is highly recommended to let a lawyer handle your case. So that the insurance adjusters do not take advantage of you being partially at fault.
Seek Legal Advice Quickly─Without Any Delays
After a car accident, seeking legal help as soon as possible is crucial to protect yourself and receive the compensation you deserve.
Consulting a car accident attorney will help you file a timely claim and help you understand your legal rights. They can guide you through the complex web of laws and regulations that may apply to your case, ensuring you don’t make mistakes that could harm your case.
Oftentimes times the insurance company will try to minimize your compensation. Therefore, having legal counsel from the start can help you deal with insurance adjusters and avoid accepting an inadequate settlement. Your attorney will settle on fair terms on your behalf and work to secure the best possible outcome.
Additionally, every car accident case is unique. An accident attorney can assess the specific circumstances of your case and provide tailored advice that suits your situation. They can help you understand the potential value of your claim and the best course of action to take.
Contact Uptown Injury New York Car Accident Lawyers Today!
At Uptown Injury Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the emotional and physical frustration that follows a car accident. Your world can suddenly turn upside down, leaving you feeling lost, overwhelmed, and uncertain about what lies ahead. In these trying times, you need someone who can support you, genuinely cares about your well-being, and is ready to take action on your behalf.
Our team of the best car accident lawyers in NYC is here to stand by your side, offering a lifeline of hope when you need it the most. With more than 15+ years of experience, we have secured $100 million for our past clients. We provide services in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.
Our car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case. With this promise, you lose nothing but gain everything to protect your rights.
At What Point Should I Consider Hiring an Attorney for a Car Accident?
You should consider talking to an attorney for a car accident if you have suffered injuries or serious property damage. Hiring an attorney can help strengthen your rights and ensure you receive fair compensation.
Additionally, if liability is disputed, multiple parties are involved, or the accident resulted in a wrongful death, consulting a personal injury lawyer is advisable to explore your options. An attorney can identify your situation and guide the best course of action to pursue your claim successfully.
Should I Seek Medical Attention Even if I Feel Fine After the Accident?
Yes, you should seek medical attention even if you feel fine after the accident. Some injuries may not show symptoms at that time but could be severe. A medical evaluation can identify hidden injuries and ensure prompt treatment, preventing major complications. Additionally, seeking medical attention creates a crucial record of your injuries, which is essential for any insurance claims or legal actions that may become necessary later.
Should I Talk to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company on My Own?
It is generally not advisable to talk to the other driver’s insurance company without first consulting with your own car accident lawyer. The other driver’s insurance adjusters may use your statements against you to minimize their liability and reduce your potential compensation. Anything you say could be taken out of context or misinterpreted, potentially harming your claim.
Instead, allow the other driver’s insurance company to communicate with your attorney, who will protect your rights, handle negotiations, and ensure that your best interests are represented throughout the process.
What Damages Can I Claim in a Car Accident Case?
In a car accident case, you may be eligible to claim various damages, including medical bills, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. Medical expenses cover your treatment costs, while property damage compensates for repairs or vehicle replacement. Lost wages account for income lost due to missed work, and pain and suffering damages address physical and emotional distress. Loss of consortium may apply in cases where the accident impacts relationships. Consulting with a car crash attorney can help you know the specific damages for which you can seek compensation.
Which Type of Insurance Can I Claim After an Auto Accident?
Different types of auto insurance coverage are usable after an auto accident. For instance, regardless of fault, PIP or MedPay can help pay for your medical expenses. At the same time, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage compensates you if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.
On the other hand, collision and comprehensive coverage handle vehicle repairs and non-collision-related damages. Contact a car accident lawyer for guidance on claiming and compensation.
What If the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?
If the insurance company denies your claim, don’t lose hope. Review the denial letter, gather more evidence, and appeal the decision. Consider consulting a car accident lawyer who can help navigate the process and negotiate on your behalf. Filing a complaint with the insurance department is also an option if needed.
Can I Still Pursue a Claim if I Was Partially at Fault for the Accident?
Yes, you can still pursue a claim if you were partially at fault for the accident. Depending on the state laws, you may be eligible for partial compensation. Consult a car accident lawyer to understand how your state law or jurisdiction’s comparative or contributory negligence rules may affect your car accident claim.
How Can I Maximize My Chances of Receiving Fair Compensation?
To maximize your chances for fair compensation, gather strong evidence, including medical records, photos, and witness statements. Talk with a car accident attorney who can guide you through the claims process, meet with insurance companies, and defend your rights. Be cautious with statements and avoid accepting lowball settlement offers.