After years of representing car accident victims and reviewing accident data throughout Allegheny County, we’ve learned an important truth: Anyone could be in a life-changing car accident. For some, a tragic car accident could mean managing a physical disability for the rest of their life. For others, a car accident could become a costly mistake that buries them in debt. Protect yourself and your rights. Your behavior immediately following a car accident could impact you, your loved ones, and your opportunity to receive benefits.
Steps to Take After an Accident
Safety should be your top priority after an accident. Once you have removed your vehicle from the road (if possible) and have determined whether anyone needs immediate medical attention, do the following:
1. Watch what you say. After an accident, the other driver or someone in your car may attempt to piece together the events that caused the accident. Don’t accept blame at this time, even if you think it’s your fault. Many factors can lead to a car accident, and your actions may not have been the cause. Accepting the blame now could hurt you later on.
2. Exchange information, especially the other driver's insurance information. Immediately after the accident, document the following information:
- The other driver’s full name
- Their contact information
- Their driver’s license number
- Their insurance information
- Their license plate number
- The color, make, and model of their vehicle
- The address where the accident took place. If you are on a rural road or a highway, make note of nearby landmarks or mile markers.
If you have a cell phone, use its camera to document all of these details.
3. Record all damage to the vehicles. If you have a cell phone, use it. Take pictures of your car, the other driver’s car, the road, and your surroundings. Be sure to document both vehicles from every angle so the insurance company has as much information as possible.
4. Contact the police and file a report. Although the other driver may try to discourage you, we recommend calling the police. After the police arrive, they’ll record the details of the car accident, which will simplify your claims process later on.
5. Identify witnesses. Ask for their name and telephone number. If drivers of commercial vehicles may have witnessed the event note or photograph the logos on those commercial vehicles.
6. Contact your insurance carrier. Contacting your insurance company is an important step after an accident, but only give as much information as needed. If your insurance representative asks questions, be as direct as possible. Missing important details or miscommunicating an event could cause you to miss out on a claim. Avoid signing any documentation they may send you until you contact an attorney. If the other driver calls their insurance carrier, do not speak to any representatives of the insurance carrier.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
We’ve seen many instances where drivers failed to receive as much money as they deserved because of the mistakes they made at the scene of the accident. Here are actions you should avoid immediately after a car crash:
- Don’t say you haven’t been injured. You and your passengers might not be in pain now, but it may take hours or even days for symptoms to appear. If you say you are completely healthy after the accident, you may have trouble receiving compensation for accident-related hospital bills you incur later on.
- Don’t say your car isn’t damaged. A gentle nudge against your bumper during rush hour traffic may not seem like a big deal, especially when there’s no visual damage to the exterior of your vehicle. Damage may still occur within the car that you might not discover until miles down the road when you and the other driver have already parted ways.
- Don’t accept a settlement on the spot. If the other driver is at fault, he or she may offer to cut a check to cover the damages to your vehicle. Don’t accept any form of payment at this time. The amount they offer may not be enough to cover your repairs.
- Don’t say more than you have to. Volunteering any additional information may be used against you after you file your claim.
Car accidents are scary, and you may feel nervous, anxious, or confused after stepping out of your vehicle. Don’t leave your future financial wellbeing up to chance. Following the guidance above can help to protect you from damaging any future claims you may file with your insurance company.
Contact Dugan & Associates
If you’ve been in a car accident, contact Dugan & Associates. Our attorneys will work with you to ensure you receive every dollar you deserve.