You probably did not anticipate involvement in an accident when you left the house this morning. Although you did not plan on it, you can still prepare for it. Like any other unlikely or unexpected event in life knowing what to do and when to do it can make the unwelcome surprises in life more bearable.
You can follow this ten-step plan for what to do in case of an accident to minimize both your potential injuries and to speed along a solution. You may not need to complete every step.
- Seek medical attention if you incurred injuries. In cases of a serious injury, this usually gets handled for you since a bystander usually phones 911 which dispatches both an ambulance and police. You go to the hospital and receive medical attention. You may not incur serious injuries though and may be able to walk around and survey the damage first.
- Check your surroundings. Smell the air for smoke or leaking liquids. Ask your passengers if for their condition. Is traffic heavy or light?
- Either move your vehicle to safety by pulling on the shoulder of the road or onto the sidewalk at the scene of the accident or call 911 to help your passengers and turn on your hazard lights Turn off your vehicle and wait for assistance. Do not make it seem as if you are attempting to leave the accident area.
- Call law enforcement whether that refers to city police, highway patrol, the sheriff’s office, etc. This begins the process of filing an accident report. The police will dispatch an officer or officers to your location where they will collect your license and registration information, insurance, and other information regarding the accident. You should obtain the officer’s badge number, name, and contact information. Most jurisdictions provide their officers with business cards.
- Trade insurance information with the other drivers or pedestrians involved in the accident. You must obtain at least the full name, relationship to the vehicle, home address, email address, phone number, insurance information including their company name and policy number, as well as their license plate number. If more than one other vehicle was involved, you collect this information from each driver. Never admit fault or even discuss it. You simply request the insurance information. Keep your temper in check and also never apologize for the accident as this can later be construed as an admission of guilt in court or insurance proceedings.
- Take photographs. You can use your cellphone to take photos since most models of phones now provide a high enough megapixel quality that you can take high-resolution photos with them. Take photos of each vehicle involved in the accident, not just your own. Try to photograph the accident from every angle, including skid marks and road hazards. Of course, this assumes you can do so. If you cannot do this yourself, and you are able to ask, ask a police officer if you can obtain copies of their photos. Also, photograph the vehicle license plate of each vehicle involved and each driver’s insurance information.
- Make a written record of everything that happened using as much detail as possible. This includes the location, weather, time of day, road conditions, activities of the other vehicles, and any other details. You can use a voice-to-text memo if you cannot write due to injury.
- Call your insurance company. If you can capably do so, phone them from the accident scene. This assumes you are not in shock, not seriously injured, and could viably start the claims process.
- Double-check yourself for injuries. Now that a few minutes have passed, re-assess yourself. As you took photos and made notes, your initial shock probably dissipated. Do you feel okay? If not, take a moment to call for an ambulance or ask a police officer on the scene for transport to the hospital. They will contact an ambulance service for you.
- Call a Houston personal injury lawyer to begin work on a legal case in addition to your insurance claim. Your insurance handles one part of obtaining a settlement after an accident, but an attorney helps you specifically with personal injury claims. Going to court can help you obtain a larger amount of money including an award for pain and suffering. The latter does not fall under the purview of insurance which only awards strict payment of actual medical bills or property damage.
These ten steps can help you navigate the morass of an accident. If you have been injured in an accident, you require immediate medical attention first. After that medical treatment, contacting your insurance company and retaining a lawyer can provide you with the best outcome. Your lawyer and your insurance company can work together to help you achieve the best outcome.