Being involved in a car accident is never fun. Though we try our best to avoid them, sometimes the unexpected happens. As your trusted Opelika car accident lawyer, also serving the surrounding areas, we’d like to offer some advice on what to do in the moments and days immediately following a car accident.
Be Prepared Before It Happens
The best defense is a good offense. If you do not have your updated car insurance and registration in an easy-to-access space in your car, you need to assemble those documents as soon as possible. Of course, you should also always have your driver’s license and your medical insurance information available at all times as well. You will need these documents to exchange information or seek treatment following an accident. Other items to keep on hand include an emergency kit that can be kept in your car. This kit should have items like a flashlight, emergency triangles or flares, first aid supplies, and even a pen and paper writing down information should your smartphone be lost in the crash. Speaking of smartphones, it is also a good idea to know who you will call after an accident. This can include your local car accident lawyer, a contact number for your insurance agent, non-emergency police number, and any other phone numbers that might be important.
Now that we have discussed everything that you should already have available, let’s talk about what to do immediately after an incident.
ASSESS INJURIES AND GET TO A SAFE PLACE
Make sure to check your surroundings before exiting your car, as other drivers might be too busy looking at the crash to see you standing next to your car. If you or any other participants are injured, call 911 immediately. If you or another person is unsure if they are injured, call 911 anyways. If possible, snap a quick picture of the accident scene and then move the cars to the side of the road. If the cars are undriveable or if there are injuries, leave the cars where they are and call 911. Try to move any people to the sidewalk or shoulder.
DOCUMENT THE SITUATION AND COLLECT INFORMATION
For legal reasons, you should never admit guilt after an accident, even if you believe it was your fault. Of course, do not leave the scene of the accident, as this could be considered a hit-and-run. It is always okay to call the police and ask to file a police report, especially if there is major damage. Tell the police exactly what happened. Only tell them the facts you are sure about. For example, do not say, “I think I ran a stop sign but I’m not sure.” You could say, “I entered the intersection and our cars hit each other.” Before the police officer leaves, ask for the police report number which you can later use to view the police report. It is also a good idea to get their names and badge numbers just in case you have trouble finding the police report.
Take pictures of all cars involved from all angles. This will be important later for filing insurance claims. After you have pictures, exchange information with any other drivers. You will need to get their name, address, phone number, and insurance information. If there are other passengers involved or witnesses who stayed on the scene, ask for their names and phone numbers as well. If a driver is combative and unwilling to give you information, stay calm and call the police.
SPEAK WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT
Call your insurance company as soon as possible. Let them know you were involved in an accident. Again, do not admit that the accident was your fault. Additionally, many drivers have Med-Pay as part of their insurance agreements – this is a section of car insurance coverage that covers medical bills after a car accident. These benefits extend to anyone who was in your vehicle at the time of the accident. Keep in mind, your insurance company should not increase your rates for submitting injury claims with Med-Pay. If they try to do this, contact your Opelika and Auburn personal injury lawyer immediately. Med-Pay is especially important if you have a high health insurance deductible.
BE CAREFUL BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR SIGNATURE ON ANYTHING
Do not sign anything from anyone – including the police, your insurance company, or the other party’s insurance company – saying you are not injured. Read all documents before you put your signature on them. Sometimes injuries are immediately noticeable. However, due to the nature of car accidents, many injuries cannot be seen. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks after a collision to feel the effects.
Other than talking to the police, do not provide any official statements about the accident until you have a trusted Georgia or Alabama car accident attorney by your side. If you are feeling unsure about talking to the police, you can also speak with your car accident lawyer before filing an official report. Keep all documents relating to the accident – this will help you get the compensation you deserve following a collision.
SHOULD I FILE A CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Many people ask, “Should I file a claim after an accident?” We have all heard horror stories of claims causing your insurance premium to go up. Let’s say an accident is your fault. Perhaps you rear-end someone at a stop sign. Even a fender bender at 15 miles per hour can result in repairs costing several thousand dollars. Often times, it will cost you less in the long run to pay high premiums for a few years rather than offer to pay for the damages with cash. When the tables are turned and someone else is clearly at fault, then their insurance should pay for all damages. If their insurance isn’t stepping up, or if the driver is uninsured, you should contact your Alabama and Georgia car accident attorney to see if you should file a claim with your insurance company and to help negotiate all claims.
What To Remember After A Car Accident
That was a lot of information! Let’s go over the main points one more time.
- Assess injuries, move to a safe place, and call the police if necessary
- Take photos of the vehicles and collect contact and insurance information
- Never admit guilt, do not apologize even if the accident was your fault
- Do not sign any documents saying you are not injured
- Do not make any official statements without speaking with your car accident lawyer
- Inform your insurance agent of the crash and let them know you will be using your Med-Pay coverage if you have any injuries
- If you are injured, call your personal injury lawyer
Barbi Agricola Is Your Trusted Georgia And Alabama Car Accident Attorney
Barbi Agricola is proud to provide legal services to over two dozen counties in eastern Alabama and western Georgia. Our service areas include, but are not limited to, Lee, Chambers, Macon, Russell, and Montgomery County in Alabama, and Muscogee, Harris, and Troup County in Georgia. Check our service areas to see if Agricola Law can serve as your car accident lawyer.
If you have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver, you will need a respected and experienced personal injury lawyer to help you receive full compensation. Agricola Law can negotiate with insurance companies and even take your case to court if needed to try to get your compensation for medical bills, lost wages, disability, and more. Contact Agricola Law today.
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