If your car was involved in an accident with another vehicle, you may need to file a personal injury claim and report the accident to your insurance company immediately. Even if the accident is minor and your car is drivable, following an accident checklist is essential to build a strong claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Reporting the accident, documenting details, and filing a claim properly will help ensure you get a fair settlement for any injuries or vehicle damage from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This checklist covers critical steps after a motor vehicle accident to protect your rights and recover damages.
First, call the local police to file a police report when you are involved in an accident, even a minor fender bender. The police report provides an objective record of important details like who’s at fault, when the accident occurred, and the accident scene. Get a copy of the accident report to submit to your insurance company and build a strong claim.
Next, take pictures of the damage and the accident scene from multiple angles. Photographing the vehicle damage, skid marks, debris, and injuries documents valuable evidence to support your injury claim. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers and witnesses at the scene.
Seeking prompt medical attention is also critical, even if your injuries seem minor initially. Your medical records will help verify accident-related conditions when filing your car insurance claim or personal injury case later. An attorney can get compensation for your injuries and medical bills if the at-fault party refuses to offer a fair settlement.
By promptly reporting the accident, gathering evidence, and documenting your injuries, you put yourself in the best position to file a successful claim with your insurance company and recover damages. This checklist outlines critical steps after an auto accident to protect yourself and get compensation.
Contact Police to File a Crucial Police Report for Your Car Accident Case
Any time you are involved in an accident, you should contact the police to file an official report. Call 911 to request that an officer come to the accident scene. A police report on file creates an objective, third-party record of what happened. The report will include important facts like:
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Names and contact information for the drivers involved
- Makes, models, and license plates of the vehicles
- The direction in which each car was traveling
- Weather and road conditions
- Any traffic control or signals present
- Observations about damage to the vehicles
- Citations issued, if any
Be sure to get a copy of the police report for your records. This report will be valuable if you need to make an insurance claim, establish fault, or file a lawsuit. Police reports are often presumed credible and objective in court.
Exchange Vital Information and Collect Evidence at the Auto Accident Scene
In addition to filing an official report, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. You’ll want to get them:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance company and policy number
Take down this same information for any passengers or witnesses at the scene. Having multiple perspectives can help establish what happened. Ensure also to check if anyone involved is injured or needs medical assistance.
Take Photos of the Car Accident Damage and Injuries to Support Your Injury Claim
Use your smartphone to take photos of the accident scene and damage to both vehicles. Capture images from multiple angles and distances. Zoom in on areas of impact or broken parts. Wide shots help establish the general scene, while close-ups show the extent of the damage.
Also, photograph any skid marks on the road, vehicle debris, weather conditions, or damaged property like a dented guard rail. Photos indicate what happened and can validate or refute claims later.
Get Medical Attention to Document Your Accident Injuries and Bills
Even if you feel fine immediately after an accident, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor. Symptoms of injuries like whiplash or concussions sometimes take hours or days to appear. Seeing a doctor promptly creates a record of your condition before problems potentially worsen.
Describe all physical complaints you have and be sure they are documented in your medical file. Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations and keep receipts for prescribed medications, equipment rentals, or therapy appointments. Your health and recovery are most important, but medical records help verify accident-related conditions when filing an insurance claim.
Notify Your Car Insurance Company to Start the Accident Claim Process
Call your car insurance provider as soon as possible after an accident. Policies often outline very strict notification timelines, so contacting them quickly is essential. Explain what happened and ask about the next steps for filing a claim.
Your insurer may send out an adjuster to inspect damage to your vehicle. Cooperate fully by providing your statement of events and any evidence you collected, like photos. The insurance company will likely also interview the other driver and witnesses to establish fault independently.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer to Strengthen Your Injury Claim and Get Fair Compensation
For serious accidents involving major injuries or property damage, contacting an attorney for guidance can be wise. An experienced personal injury lawyer can deal with the insurance company on your behalf and make sure you receive total and fair compensation. They will determine if you have grounds for filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver based on factors like:
Type and extent of your injuries
Medical expenses incurred
Lost income from missed work
Pain and suffering damages
Damage to your vehicle
Having skilled legal representation increases your chances of getting the maximum settlement you deserve.
Key Takeaways to Remember After a Car Crash to Get the Settlement You Deserve
- Call the police and get an accident report
- Exchange contact/insurance info with the other driver
- Take photos of the damage and the scene
- Get medical attention even for minor aches
- Notify your insurance provider promptly
- Consider consulting a personal injury attorney
Thoroughly documenting details at the scene provides critical evidence if you need to make an injury claim after a car accident. Following these steps helps ensure you get fair compensation for damages suffered. Focus first on safety and medical care, but collect information to protect your rights and support your claim.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I was in a minor car accident, must I file a police report?
You should always file a police report after an auto accident, even a minor fender bender. The police report provides official documentation of the car accident details, who’s at fault, injuries, and property damage. This will help support your injury claim or insurance claim.
What should I do at the car accident scene to collect evidence for my personal injury case?
Take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, skid marks, injuries, etc. Get contact/insurance info from the other drivers involved. Get names of witnesses. All this proves what happened to help your injury claim later.
How soon after a car accident should I seek medical attention?
Get medical care promptly, even for seemingly minor injuries. Your medical records will document accident-related conditions when you file an insurance claim or lawsuit. Undocumented injuries can weaken your case.
When should I notify my auto insurance company after an accident?
Contact your insurer as soon as possible, per the timeline in your policy. Prompt reporting allows your insurer to investigate the accident details and process your claim. Delayed notification could risk claim denial.
Will hiring a personal injury lawyer help my car accident case?
Yes, an attorney can deal with the insurance claims process for you, determine fault and damages owed, negotiate a fair settlement, and take legal action if needed. They strengthen your chances of maximum compensation.