If I have been in a car accident, what should I do first?
There are several steps you should take after a car accident to protect yourself and your rights. The first thing to do is to determine whether you or anyone else is injured, then summon help by calling 911 and requesting police assistance and an ambulance. Then, if you can, you should protect your rights to compensation for your losses.
If you intend to file an insurance claim for a car accident, you will need evidence of the losses you have suffered. You can start gathering this evidence immediately if you are not incapacitated by the wreck. Take several photos of the cars involved in the accident, including shots that show the damage and each car’s license plate. Take photos of your injuries. If any environmental factor contributed to your accident, such as standing water, road construction or an obstructed view, photograph it.
Collect information from the other drivers and passengers in the wreck if they are cooperative. Record contact information for anyone involved, and from any witnesses. From other drivers, get:
- Full name and address
- Telephone number(s)
- Name of their employer(s)
- Name of their insurance company, including policy numbers.
Contact your insurance company to report the accident. Cooperate with police and insurance company representatives, but do not blame yourself or anyone else for the accident. If you are contacted by another driver’s insurance company, do not admit fault or downplay the extent of your injuries. Do not sign anything offered by an insurance company.
Regardless of how you feel, consult a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. Some serious injuries only show symptoms 24 hours or more after they occur. Regardless, getting treatment and following doctors’ orders documents your medical care for an insurance claim.