Here’s What You Need to Do to Protect Yourself After a Car Crash
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on September 30th, 2014
Every day, innocent drivers and their passengers are injured when they are involved in crashes with other cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles that are being driven by other drivers who are drunk or distracted or doing stupid things on our roadways.
These kinds of crashes happen when innocent drivers least expect them.
That’s where it is critical to know what you should do if you are involved in a vehicle crash when another driver’s vehicle strikes your vehicle while you are operating it.
Now is a good time to review these steps as fall weather and winter driving weather approach, bringing their own challenges and risks for drivers, with slippery roadways, snow, ice and more.
If you are involved in a vehicle crash, there are several key things for you to keep in mind while you wait for law enforcement officials to respond to the crash. One of the first and best steps you can take is to stay calm and aware of the situation, according to a list of tips provided by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Drivers should follow some basic procedures after an accident, Dr. William Van Tassel, manager of AAA Driver Training Programs, said in a statement. “It does not matter who is at fault, the most important thing to do first is make sure everyone is OK, then seek medical and law enforcement help and know what to do to protect yourself from legal or financial problems down the road.”
You should always be prepared for a post-crash emergency by having a pen and paper, disposable camera or cellphone camera, and a copy of your insurance card easily accessible to minimize your stress if an accident occurs, according to AAA.
If anyone is injured due to the crash, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. If medical attention is not needed, make sure your vehicle and any other vehicles are out of the way or are moved out of the way of other motorists who are driving nearby to prevent other vehicles from being involved in the crash.
Use your vehicle’s hazard lights and set out warning flares or reflective triangles to let other drivers know to use caution near the scene. Wait in a safe area until police arrive.
Definitely call the police and file a report, regardless of what other drivers say, according to AAA. “If the police do not come to the scene to open an investigation, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or automobile insurance agency in the days after a crash,” AAA recommends. “Having a report on file may help later if a liability claim is filed.”
Be sure to exchange and write down all identifying information for all other drivers, as well as from any witnesses. This information will be needed for insurance claims and any legal actions. Make sure you write down all names, addresses, email addresses, vehicle information including makes, models and years for all cars involved, vehicle identification and license plate numbers for all vehicles and the driver’s license numbers for all involved operators. Also be sure to get the names of all insurance companies of other drivers, as well as their insurance policy numbers. It’s also important to use your cellphone camera or another camera to take photos of the location, people involved and of the damaged vehicles to document the crash, if you are able to do so.
After the accident has been documented with police and you have recorded information for other drivers, be sure to report the incident to your insurance company to begin a claim. Many insurance companies today have staff available 24/7 and can assist immediately. Have your agent’s phone number in your cellphone for such emergencies.
Obviously, if you have been seriously injured you won’t be able to take the steps listed above. Most of that information will be available later through police reports and insurance documents.
Knowing what to do ahead of time, however, can make the post-crash process simpler later. You can be one of your own best advocates in a crash because you can help provide the information which will show that the other driver is at fault in such a scenario.
There’s one other important thing you need to keep in mind — you also need to make sure that you actually have enough insurance coverage to protect you, your family and others if you are ever involved in a motor vehicle crash. Read the details of this critical issue in another recent MyPhillyLawyer blog post.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle accident caused by another driver anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.
When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.