Most Americans will at some point be involved in a car accident, with some research suggesting that the average person will be in a vehicle accident roughly three to four times over the course of their life.
No one plans to get into a car accident, but as New York car accident attorneys, we encourage you and the drivers in your household to be prepared if (or when) one does occur.
One of the most important steps you can take towards that preparedness is to keep a checklist in your glove compartment of what to do and what information to gather immediately after a car accident. This information will allow you to act quickly in the aftermath of a crash and is especially vital to have if the accident is not your fault. Having thorough documentation will help to hold the wrongdoer accountable for any negligence.
If a car accident occurs, try to remain calm and assess the situation. Call 911 if anyone is seriously injured. Then proceed with this list:
- Call the police even if there are no serious injuries. The police will write up an official report, which you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. Ask the officer for their name, badge number, and police report number.
- Document the accident by taking photos of the vehicles involved and their license plates, any visible damage, the surrounding accident scene, and traffic signals and signs.
- Do not admit fault to the police or the other driver. Simply report the facts you observed.
- Do not agree to settle “outside” of insurance with the other party as you may not know the full extent of your injuries or property damage. Sometimes medical injuries appear days or even weeks after an accident, even for mild “fender benders.”
- Exchange information with the other driver. That includes getting the other person’s full name and insurance information (insurance company, policy number, and phone number for the insurance company).
- Collect information from any witnesses including names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Also be sure to seek medical attention for pain or minor injuries, even if they crop up in the days following the accident. Keep a file of your accident-related documents and contact your automobile insurance company to report your claim.