Have a fender bender? Here are three things to do after you have been in a car accident:
1. Protect the Accident Area
This is for your protection as well as the safety of other drivers. Keep the hazard lights flashing on all of the cars involved at the scene. Keep flashlights on if it is dark and headlights are broken. If you are not injured, set up flares around the perimeter of the accident scene if you can do so safely. Criminal and civil penalties can be imposed if you leave the scene of the accident, even if the accident is a relatively minor one by comparison. Seek help from emergency services prior to leaving.
2. Keep Precise Records
If you are not injured, take photos of any damage so long as doing so does not put you in harm’s way (i.e. standing in traffic to get a better picture). Photographs may be the best way to show what happened to all cars involved, as well as what happened to the road or nearby objects (street signs, guard rails, benches, etc.) If you are injured, try to document your injuries with photographs; however, do not delay care for the purposes of taking photographs. Do not get in the way of the police investigation once the police arrive, but take pictures as soon as you are able to and allowed to.
3. Call Your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance provider. Insurance companies often have different rules and/or policies regarding when an accident should be reported. If you have questions about your insurance policy, you should speak with your insurance carrier. In addition, some policies provide for benefits such as “medpay”. Simply put, medpay allows medical bills to be paid by your insurance company while liability is being determined. There are pros and cons to using medpay, so it’s best to seek advice from a skilled attorney familiar with car accidents or insurance adjuster before deciding whether or not to use benefits such as medpay. In some cases, your insurance company may advise you not to file a claim with them at all. Each situation is different, and it is important that you speak with an attorney who can advise you of the proper steps to take.