When a car accident occurs, it can be challenging to know what steps to take next. This article is designed to help you navigate the aftermath of an auto collision and walk away with all your belongings intact.
When should you call the police? How do you report property damage? What if someone was injured or killed in the crash? These questions and many more will be answered below. The following information is not legal advice for any individual case but rather general guidelines on how to proceed after a car accident.
When Is It Appropriate to Call the Police?
The police should only be called when someone is seriously injured or if a vehicle is illegally parked. If you hit a legally parked car and no one appears to be inside, do not assume that the owner disappeared on purpose. Many people park in parking lots and leave their vehicles because they believe it will result in a better spot upon their return. Also, never move another person’s vehicle after hitting it without first asking for permission from the owner. Changing location even slightly can make it difficult to establish fault and settle insurance claims later.
Do not touch any items inside other peoples’ cars either: this could destroy vital forensic evidence related to the accident and compromise your claims.
How Do You Report Property Damage?
You will need to fill out an accident report if the cars are blocking traffic or on a public roadway (public roads include parking lots and open spaces where anyone can walk). Municipal property like sidewalks, streets, and highway dividers also qualify as “public roadways.” This means that if your car is blocking a sidewalk but otherwise on private property, only contact the police if it’s been more than 30 minutes since you called 911. Otherwise, talk to your insurance company directly.
Suppose no one has been injured in the crash, and it does not appear that criminal activity was involved. In that case, you may be able to negotiate with the other driver for information without involving official authorities. However, if you feel that personal safety is in jeopardy, call the police immediately.
If your car was illegally parked and someone bumped into it, the issue will be resolved through your insurance company (check with them for more information).
What If You Caused an Accident?
If you were at fault, you should report the incident to your insurance company according to their reporting requirements. This may involve going through a claims adjuster or filing a police report yourself. Ask your insurer how they prefer this situation to be handled if they have not already done so.
For minor accidents where no one appears hurt and no major property damage results, these events are often best dealt with directly between drivers involved rather than reported to authorities. However, always contact law enforcement if you believe that the other person was at fault or if there is any chance of insurance fraud or criminal activity being involved.
What If You Are Injured?
You should immediately call 911 to get help from an ambulance in this situation. In addition to helping the injured, the ambulance will take you to a hospital where doctors can determine what treatment is best for you and your personal needs. You will also want to ensure that any personal property in the car is safe by securing it in a locked trunk or backseat before calling 911.
If you are involved in an accident, it is important to remember that your safety comes first. If you have been injured, take time to care for yourself and contact your attorney as soon as possible after the incident occurs so that they can begin assembling your case file and secure rightful compensation for your suffering.
Personal injury lawyers can be helpful in many scenarios related to accidents, including insurance claims disputes and criminal investigations. Follow the advice of your attorney on what to do after an accident because it will affect the possibility of a fair settlement or successful defense later on.
Do You Have to Pay for Related Accident Costs?
How will the damage costs to your car be assessed after an accident? The simplest and most common method is to pay for repairs upfront and get reimbursed by your insurance company. This is known as a “settlement demand.” More complicated rules may apply if you have collision coverage on your automobile: this indicates that your insurer pays for damage to the vehicle regardless of fault or intent. Ask your insurer how they prefer these situations handled.
If you did not buy collision coverage, the other driver’s insurance pays only if he was at fault in your accident. Your deductible applies in these cases: if it wasn’t met when you got into the accident, you would have to pay this amount to get your car repaired. If you add a deductible when you purchase collision coverage, then the cost of any repairs would fall upon you alone and not on your insurance company unless they covered them in another way.
Whether you caused the accident or were injured in it, you must take some steps to get back on your feet after such an event. Insurance claims for accidents can be complicated and confusing—especially if you don’t have collision coverage on your car. Personal safety is always paramount when dealing with vehicles. Make sure to call 911 immediately if an accident occurs. The best way to avoid being involved in a crash altogether is by driving defensively and never texting behind the wheel.