Both people involved in car crashes and family members responding to a loved one’s call from the scene of a nearby wreck will need to be smart about what steps they take. How you handle the news of a car crash can have a big impact on how much financial compensation you can secure for the wreck later.
Whether you want to handle the details of crash response so your loved one can focus on handling their injuries or you were involved in the crash, you need to keep calm and take the right steps for your own safety and financial protection.
1. Reach out to the appropriate authorities
One of the most important steps to take after a car crash is to call the police to report the incident. Sometimes, people may require emergency care after a crash. Other times, they simply need to contact the non-emergency line for law enforcement in their area. Even if the other driver asks you to settle the matter between the two of you, you need to file a police report both to comply with the law and to protect your right to file an insurance claim later.
2. Gather information about the other driver and witnesses
Especially during times of inclement weather, the people present initially after a crash may not wait for the police to come. You need the full name, phone number and email address of the other driver and any witnesses who could help you explain what happened to the police, an insurance adjuster or the civil courts.
Getting an address and a phone number will be important, but email addresses are ideal because people tend to continue using the same email address even if they move or change phone providers. You also need to get identifying information about the officers who respond to the crash.
3. Gather evidence about the scene of the crash
Mobile phones and other electronic devices with built-in cameras are very useful tools to have on hand following a wreck. They can help you permanently preserve evidence about the scene of the crash that could eventually play a role in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
You may also need to see a doctor to document your injuries. Even though you may assume that the fault of the other driver is obvious, you can more effectively protect yourself from misconduct on the part of other people when you have proof of what happened.
4. Recognize when you need legal support
It is often necessary for those coping with significant injuries after a car crash to bring in professional assistance. Lawyers can facilitate an investigation into a crash and are also able to handle the process of negotiating with an insurance company on behalf of their clients.
Knowing what steps to take in the aftermath of a motor vehicle collision will make it easier for you to protect yourself and hold the driver at fault accountable.