What Should I Do if I am In a Car Accident
Car accidents can be scary and frustrating. You or your loved ones may be injured and frightened. You may also have another driver to deal with, and he or she could be angry and irrational. In the midst of this, you have to keep a cool enough head to gather the information you need for your insurance company and get the claims process started.
It’s difficult to remember what you’re supposed to be doing when you’ve just undergone a traumatic experience. Here’s a checklist of things to keep in mind directly after an auto accident occurs:
- Take a quick inventory of yourself and your passengers to make sure everyone is okay. Also calm yourself by taking a few deep, steadying breaths. An accident can flood your system with adrenaline, and the rush of adrenaline can cloud your judgment and make you forget things. It helps to keep a checklist like this one in your car along with your insurance card so you can refer to it instead of relying on your memory.
- Check to see if the other driver is okay. Assuming that you and your passengers are able to safely exit your vehicle, go and check on the other driver. Also see if they have already contacted the police or if you need to do so.
- Call the police. If anyone is injured, request emergency services as well. Police are not necessarily required for every auto accident, but they do make the claims service go more smoothly. Once you have ensured that the police are on their way, you can return to your vehicle to wait for them.
- Exchange insurance information. If the police are called to the scene, this is pretty simple as they will get the information for you and provide you with the completed police report. Otherwise, you’ll need to talk to the other driver to get his or her contact information, insurance provider and policy number.
- Get information from any witnesses who saw the accident. These witness reports will be used by the insurance company to determine who was at fault for the auto accident. That will affect whether you pay a deductible and what type of medical settlement you might be able to pursue.
- Have your vehicle towed away, if necessary. If you don’t feel safe driving the vehicle home, you should arrange for a tow truck. This tow should be covered by your Michigan insurance company as long as you have collision coverage. Signs of a vehicle that cannot be safely driven include leaking fluids, bent wheels and anything that prevents the driver’s door from opening freely.
- Seek medical attention. Even if emergency medical attention was unnecessary at the scene, it’s still a good idea to follow up with a doctor for a full examination. Many injuries do not become obvious until after the adrenaline has worn off, so you may be more injured than you’d thought. Getting medical care right away is an important step in defending your health and fortifying any medical expenses settlement you might receive from your insurer.
- File a claim with your insurance company. The claim will usually take 10-15 minutes to complete, so wait until you’ll have an uninterrupted space of time to report the accident. Most of the information your insurance company will ask should be listed on the police report, so filing the claim should be fairly straightforward.
- After filing the claim, be sure to write down your claim number and the name of your adjuster. You will have separate adjusters for vehicle damage and your medical payments; make sure to provide the medical adjuster’s information to your doctor so that your expenses can be billed properly.
- Contact your attorney. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury as a result of an auto accident, an attorney can help you get the money you deserve from your claim.
One of the most important things you can do after an auto accident is enlist the help of a qualified attorney who can guide you through the rest of the claims process. Insurance companies can be frustrating to deal with, and having a representative on your side who can watch out for your interests is invaluable.