How to Document a Car Accident
A fender bender can disrupt daily routine, making it a challenge to get to work and take care of your family. However, a severe crash can have a life-altering impact, leaving catastrophic injuries, mountains of medical bills and lost wages in its wake. It can take years to recover and learn to live with a new normal.
In 2018, there were more than 12 million car accidents in the US, resulting in minor injuries to fatalities. No matter how serious the accident, it can be challenging to focus immediately after a crash. Learning what to do after an accident ahead of time can help you prepare and be ready to act. Here are some steps to take that may make the claims process smoother.
Check for Injuries
Safety is your top priority. Take a moment to breathe, then check to see if you or any of your passengers have injuries. If there are injuries, call for medical assistance immediately.
Move the Vehicle
If the accident was minor and you are not injured, carefully move your car out of the traffic lane, turn on your hazard lights, and set up reflective triangles or flares to alert other drivers. This can help prevent subsequent crashes. If the damage to your car was severe or people were hurt, don’t try to move it. Carefully get out of the vehicle, helping your passengers if necessary, and move to the side of the road if safe to do so.
Call the Police
Even if the accident is minor and the police don’t respond to this type of collision, it’s important to report the accident. If the police come to the scene, get the officer’s name, badge number, contact information and report number.
Collect Critical Information
Get the name and contact information of everyone involved in the crash. This includes drivers, passengers and witnesses. Write down license plate numbers, insurance information for the drivers. Note the make and model of all the vehicles, even if there is no noticeable damage.
Document the Scene
Record as many details of the crash site as possible. Take pictures of your car and pay attention to the impact points, such as whether they are on the driver’s side, front, rear or passenger side. Get close-up images of the damage to your car and other vehicles involved.
Note the date and time of the accident. Take photographs or video of the whole scene, including property damage and skid marks. Pay attention to the direction each vehicle was heading before and after the accident, as well as the street names.
Document the details of the accident while it’s still fresh in your mind, including the weather and visibility. Use a voice memo app on your phone for convenience.
Refrain from Discussing the Accident
It may be tempting to talk about what happened with the other drivers and passengers at the scene. If possible, stay in your car while waiting for police to arrive. Don’t interact with the other driver or speak more than necessary. Anything you say may be used against you when filing your claim.
Notify Your Insurance Company
The insurance company may have an adjuster investigating the crash within 24-hours of your report. In some cases, an offer quickly follows. This may be before you have a chance to get an estimate for repairs or medical bills. If you accept the offer and it’s undervalued, you won’t be able to go back and get additional funds to cover expenses.
Between February 2020 and July 2021, there were nearly 70,000 car accidents in California. The California personal injury lawyers at Kalfayan Merjanian LLP fight to protect their clients’ rights and work to help them get compensation to pay for damages.