You've been in a car accident. Your adrenaline is pumping as the realization sets in. Beyond making sure everyone is safe and unharmed, reporting the accident properly is critical. Failing to do so accurately can jeopardize insurance claims and, in some cases, result in legal trouble. While it's a stressful situation, keeping a level head and following the correct procedures is important. Here's a step-by-step guide from our Austin car accident lawyers for how to properly report a car accident to help ensure the aftermath is handled properly. Staying calm and organized will help get you through the process.
Call the Police and Report the Accident
The first step after any car accident should always be to call 911 and report the incident to the police.
Document the Scene
While waiting for the authorities to arrive, document the accident scene. Take photos of the vehicles involved and the surrounding area. Get the contact information of any witnesses as well as the other driver(s) and occupants. Note details like the time of day, traffic and weather conditions. All of this information will be important for insurance claims and determining fault.
Exchange Insurance Information
Provide your auto insurance details to the other parties involved, including policy number and insurance company contact information. Be sure to get the same information from the other driver(s). If injuries are reported, also exchange health insurance details.
Get a Police Report
Request an official police report of the accident. This report will contain vital details to support any insurance claims or legal issues resulting from the crash. The report should note factors like the apparent cause of the accident, any citations issued, and conditions at the scene. Be sure to get the report number for your records.
Seek Medical Attention if Necessary
Even if injuries do not seem serious at the time of the accident, it is best to get checked out by a doctor. Adrenaline and shock can mask pain from injuries that may become more severe later. A prompt medical exam and any necessary treatment will also provide documentation for related health insurance or legal claims.
Following these steps will ensure the proper reporting of your accident to facilitate insurance and any other processes needed to address damages or injuries resulting from the unfortunate event. Staying calm and organized during a stressful time like this can help resolve issues as efficiently as possible.
Get Insurance Information From Other Drivers
One of the most important steps following an accident is obtaining insurance information from the other drivers involved.
Contact the Other Drivers
As soon as it is safe to do so, make contact with the other drivers and request their auto insurance details, including:
- Insurance company name and policy number. Ask to see their insurance card if possible.
- Driver's license number and contact information. Get their full name, address, phone number and email in case you need to follow up with them regarding the claim.
- Vehicle make, model, year, plate number and VIN. This information will be required by both insurance companies to identify the vehicles involved.
Take Photos of Everything
In addition to recording the other drivers' information, be sure to take photos of the vehicles involved showing the license plate numbers. Take photos of any damage to all vehicles. It is also a good idea to photograph the general area of the accident scene and any skid marks on the road. All of this visual evidence may be useful for determining fault.
Contact Your Insurance Company Promptly
Report the accident to your own insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with the details of the other drivers and vehicles involved including the information you obtained. Your insurance company will walk you through the next steps for filing a claim to recover losses related to injuries, vehicle damage, and other expenses. Cooperating fully with them is essential to ensuring you receive fair compensation under your policy.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel perfectly fine after a car accident, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The adrenaline rushing through your body can mask pain from injuries, and some issues may not manifest symptoms right away. It is always better to be safe than sorry in this situation.
Seek Emergency Services Immediately
Call 911 to report the accident and request emergency medical services. While waiting for emergency responders to arrive, avoid moving around or doing any extraneous activity. Remain still until emergency medical technicians have examined you, as this minimizes the risk of further injury.
Get Checked Out At The Hospital
Allow emergency responders to transport you to the nearest hospital or emergency care center to be thoroughly evaluated by physicians. They can properly assess you for injuries like soft tissue damage, internal bleeding, fractures, or head trauma you may not yet feel. Diagnostic testing like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs may be required to detect hidden issues. It is critical to be monitored for signs of concussion or other head injury, even after normal test results. Seek follow up care from your primary physician right away.
Note details about the accident for your records and report, including time and location of the accident, weather and road conditions at the time, and information about other parties involved. Obtain a copy of the official accident report from law enforcement as well. All medical reports, test results, discharge papers, and billing records should be retained for insurance claims and potential legal matters. Photograph visible injuries, damage to vehicles, and the accident scene. This evidence can help substantiate your case.
While it may seem unnecessary if you feel unharmed, seeking prompt medical attention after any car accident is vital to your health and safety, and to protecting your legal rights. Do not delay—call for emergency help right away.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Contacting your insurance company should be one of your top priorities after a car accident. They will guide you through the necessary next steps to take.
File a Claim
File a claim with your auto insurance provider as soon as possible. They will need details about the accident like the date, time, location, and circumstances of what happened. Be prepared to provide any photos you took, information about the other driver(s) involved such as their name, address, phone number, insurance details, license plate number, and driver's license number. Your insurance company will investigate the claim and determine fault and liability.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if there are no obvious injuries, get checked out by a doctor within 48 hours of the accident. Adrenaline and shock can mask pain, and some injuries may not surface until days later. Visit your physician or an urgent care center and report any pains, aches or concerns. Inform your insurance company about any medical treatment you receive. They may cover costs under personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay) coverage.
Get Your Vehicle Appraised
Have your vehicle inspected by an auto body shop or mechanic approved by your insurance company. They will assess any damage and provide an estimate for repairs. Your insurance provider will review the estimate and determine if the vehicle is repairable or if it should be deemed a total loss. They will handle paying for covered repairs or reimburse you for the actual cash value of the vehicle.
Your insurance company will advise you if additional steps are needed such as providing a recorded statement about the accident or appearing in court. Cooperate fully with them to ensure a smooth claims process. You may also want to consider consulting with a personal injury attorney regarding any injuries or impacts the accident has had on you. They can help negotiate with insurance companies and pursue compensation for damages.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Once the initial shock of a car accident wears off, contacting a personal injury lawyer should be a top priority. A lawyer can advise you of your rights and help determine fault, as well as handle the complex legal issues involved in a car accident claim.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Following a collision, the at-fault party’s insurance company will likely contact you quickly to get a statement about what happened. Do not provide any details about the accident without first speaking to a lawyer. Insurance companies are primarily concerned with limiting their liability and the compensation they may have to pay. A lawyer can handle communications with insurance companies on your behalf to make sure your rights are protected.
Finding the Right Representation
Seek out lawyers in your area who specialize in car accident and personal injury law. Check online reviews from their former clients to determine a shortlist of potential attorneys to consult with. Meet or speak with them to evaluate their experience, qualifications, availability, and rapport. Fees may be charged on a contingency basis, meaning the lawyer is only paid if you receive compensation. Discuss potential fees upfront to find an arrangement you are comfortable with.
Building Your Case
Your lawyer will investigate the accident, collect police reports, interview witnesses, and gather other evidence to establish liability. They can also help quantify the financial impact of your injuries including medical bills, lost work wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The lawyer will then negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement, or file a lawsuit on your behalf if needed. With the proper legal counsel and case documentation, you have the best chance of receiving full and fair compensation after a car accident.
Call Fletcher Law After Your Car Accident
Once you've ensured everyone's safety following an accident, it's time to report the incident to the authorities. Here are the steps you should take:
Call 911 for Emergency Assistance
If there are any injuries or the vehicles are obstructing traffic, call 911 immediately. Explain the situation clearly and follow any instructions given by the emergency responders regarding medical care or vehicle removal.
Contact Local Law Enforcement
Even for minor fender benders with no injuries, you are required by law to report the accident to the police or sheriff's department. Provide details about the location of the accident, vehicle and driver information, insurance details, and a brief description of what happened. An officer may come to the scene to file an official police report for insurance purposes.
Exchange Information with Other Drivers
Get the name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance details from the other driver(s) involved. Take photos of the vehicles, license plates, insurance cards, driver's licenses, and the accident scene. This information will be needed for insurance claims and police reports.
Call Your Insurance Company
Notify your insurance provider as soon as possible about the accident. They will walk you through the claims process, including providing details about the incident, photos, a copy of the police report, and quotes for vehicle repair or replacement. Cooperate fully with your insurance company's investigation into the accident.
Consult with Fletcher Law
Personal injury attorneys can advise you regarding next steps to recover damages for physical or emotional injuries, loss of income or quality of life. They can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf or represent you in court if needed. Call Fletcher Law 24/7 for a free consultation regarding your legal options following a car accident. We're here to support you through this difficult process.