There are 4 major things that people should do after getting into a car accident.
If you have the ability to video tape your interactions with the opposing driver, do so. Often times the person at-fault in the accident will admit to you in person that he ran the red light, but when speaking to his insurance company he will renege and say the light was still yellow. If you can record his statements, it will help avoid any dishonesty later.
Obviously, people become uncomfortable when being videotaped, so use the excuse that you’re taking a video of the vehicles’ damage and the location of the vehicles after the accident. Do this before you move the vehicles out of the street. The video will also capture some of the circumstances of the accident, like the weather, condition of the road, severity of traffic, and everyone’s initial reactions to the accident. All of these items can be useful in making sure you are treated fairly by the insurance company.
Take photos of the other driver’s license and insurance information. Give the other driver your information. Sharing this information allows the insurance companies to establish claims, provide rental cars, and make determinations on who is at-fault in the accident. The faster fault is determined the better.
One of the most important pieces of information you can get at the accident scene is contact information for any witnesses. Once the witnesses are gone, if you haven’t recorded their contact information, they will never be found again.
Call the Police
No one likes waiting for the police, but sometimes you don’t have to wait. If you call and report the accident, often times police will come to your homes at a less busy time to review damage on the vehicles, take statements and finalize their report. But why do you need to call the police in the first place? Because the insurance company will rely on the police officer’s determination of who is at fault in the accident above almost all else.
If the police write a ticket, even better, the insurance company will often accept liability based solely on the ticket even if their client claims the “light was still yellow”.
Go to the Doctor
After an accident you should go to the Emergency Room for major injuries, and to your family doctor or emergency clinic for minor injuries. Often times clients believe they’re only sore after an accident, but not injured. Those clients are experiencing whiplash, which can take on average 2-3 months to heal with therapy, and longer without.
We’ve had many clients who thought they were suffering from whiplash, but after 2-3 months of physical therapy the pain still hasn’t gone away. After MRI’s these clients discovered tears in the ligaments and tendons or bulging disks in the spine requiring surgery.
What happens when clients think whiplash will heal without therapy, only to discover that they need surgery to repair an underlying injury? Because they didn’t seek treatment right away, the insurance company tries to deny their claim.
Go see your doctor and ask for a referral to a physical therapist. Don’t ignore whiplash, because it can be more serious. Lastly, call us at (907) 290-2576. We can help you avoid mistakes that you do not know you are making.
Get Everything Out of Your Car
If your car is about to be towed, get everything out. Clean the trunk, backseat, glove box, console, clean everything out! Often the tow yard will not let you back into the vehicle until the tow bill is paid, and because the insurance company is supposed to pay the bill, you could be waiting a long time to get your stuff back.