Car accidents happen even to the most mindful drivers. Whether the results are property damage or personal injury, you might be full of shock, adrenaline and anger. It is important to take certain steps after the accident to protect yourself, your property and your interests. What follows are four steps on how to handle the situation if you are in a motor vehicle accident.
1. Assess the scene.
The first thing you should do is figure out the extent of your property damage or injuries. If either is present, call the police. Even if it was a minor incident and no one sustained any serious physical injuries, it is always a good idea to file an official report with police for insurance purposes. If your vehicle is still operational and safe to drive, pull off to the side of the road and set up flares if you have them.
2. Document the accident.
Generally speaking, you must provide your name and insurance details to the other drivers involved in the accident. You will also want to photograph vehicle damage if possible. If you do not have a camera or smartphone, write notes about the accident and draw an outline of the scene, including the directions that each car was going.
Do not admit wrongdoing or definitively state that you do not have injuries as this could complicate a future claims process.
3. Determine insurance coverage.
The process of filing an insurance claim differs depending on who caused the accident and what policies each driver holds. Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state, meaning everyone should have insurance coverage for medical bills and property damage. If your damages exceed your policy limits, however, you may be able to pursue a claim for driver negligence against the other driver. Negligence claims can also sometimes cover the costs of auxiliary expenses usually not covered by insurance, like pain and suffering, emergency roadside service and rental car reimbursement.
4. File a claim if needed.
Even just making it out of a car crash scot-free can make you feel relieved, but it is important to take care of business. If the damages and injuries are pervasive, you will likely file an insurance claim. When filing your claim it is crucial to fully understand the extent of your injuries and their long-term financial impact.
When dealing with the aftermath of your accident, determining the worth of your claim can be difficult on your own and insurance companies may want to rush the process. Make sure you are aware of all the details by consulting with an attorney who deals with auto accidents and personal injuries. Legal advice can help you navigate the complicated post-accident process.