Over six million Americans will be involved in a car crash or motor vehicle accident each year. Thankfully, only one-third of these involve any serious injuries. The most common injuries after an accident are from the whiplash effect of being jerked and slammed at high rates of speed. But because the onset of whiplash does not become apparent until hours after an accident, it is not commonly noted at the scene. Let’s consider the essential steps of dealing with the aftermath of a car accident below.
#1: Call for Help
Even if there does not appear to be any significant damage, people can experience whiplash at speeds as low as five mph. This means that even a fender-bender can later lead to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and headaches. In more serious cases, whiplash can also induce blurred vision, depression, difficulty concentrating, tinnitus, and sleep disturbances.
Although you may not need an ambulance, it is recommended that you call the police to create a formal accident report for insurance claims. The police can also help to verify the identity of the other driver and to eliminate controversy over many essential facts of time, place, weather, etc.
#2: Obtain Info from the Other Driver
Always be sure to get the name, address, phone number, license number, registration, and insurance information from the other driver involved in the accident. It is useful to simply take snapshots of the documents and their driver’s license with your SmartPhone. You can use your Notes or Word app to enter any other information. Nevertheless, about one out of every eight motorists is uninsured and possibly unlicensed. These drivers may flee the scene without providing the information or may provide incorrect information.
#3: Document the Car Crash and Collect Evidence
Take pictures of the accident scene and any relevant objects or signs that may help to establish fault in the other driver. Maybe there was a yield sign that clearly gave you the right of way or ice on the road that caused you to spin out of control even when driving carefully at safe speeds. Now is the moment to gather the evidence before it spoils. This includes interviewing any witnesses and obtaining their contact info as well. A video interview of their narrative may be the most valuable information.
#4: Contact Your Insurance Company
In some cases, you may ultimately wind up making a claim under your own insurance plan. This is especially the case if you have full coverage, uninsured, or underinsured motorist policies. Your insurance company may have a deadline to file a claim for compensation. It is better to act sooner rather than later because the deadline to file a civil lawsuit simultaneously starts running at the time of the accident. If you wait to file a claim with the insurer, you may wind up filing unnecessary litigation before they fairly resolve the claim.
#5: Stick to the Facts
Whenever you are discussing the accident with the police, always stick to the facts. Don’t speculate about what might have happened. The more if’s, and’s, and but’s that you create, the harder it becomes to litigate the case. If you don’t know what happened, be sure to tell the officer that you don’t remember because it happened so suddenly. The cause of many accidents is not known until long after the fact.
Furthermore, you do not have to discuss the facts of the case at all with the other driver’s insurance company. You are only required to provide them with your name, address, and telephone number. Working with an accident attorney to create an objective and clear statement of what occurred is the best strategy.