For many, driving is a big part of becoming an adult. And for all, it is a huge responsibility. Cars can be very dangerous, so keep the following in mind whenever you get behind the wheel of a moving vehicle:
- Don't drink and drive;
- Put down your phone; and
- Always drive the legal speed limit.
Adherence to these three rules will help you avoid the most common causes of car accidents.
But, if by chance you are involved in a car accident, here is a checklist of things you need to do immediately after:
Step 1: Get to a Safe Place
The first thing to do after an accident is to get your car and yourself off of the road and to some place safe. If you can't move your car, leave it there. The insurance company will pay to get your car out of the road later. Either way, put on your hazard lights, and if you have any of those orange triangle put those out around the wreck.
Furthermore, if you have any road flares, you can also put those on the ground around the wreck to alert other drivers. But be careful, these are not like glowsticks and will burn you if they come in contact with your skin or clothing.
*Note - Do not offer any apologies or explanations of what caused the accident to anyone. This might feel a bit uncomfortable, but whatever you say can be used against you in future legal proceedings.
Step 2. Call the Police
It is not against the law if you don't call the police, but you should always call 911 if someone (in either vehicle) has been injured during the accident.
Furthermore, even if no one is injured in the accident, it is best to call 911 to bring in the police to document the accident and give their unbiased opinion of how the accident happened and who is to blame.
If there is any damage to either car, the insurance companies will soon be fighting over who should pay for the repairs, so and any evidence you obtain that can establish the other driver's fault, will be a huge advantage to you and your insurance company.
If you live in a big city or if it is super busy that day, it may take a little while for the police to arrive. But you still want to err on the side of caution and call them. Anyway, you will have to file an accident report at some time, so don't think that by not contacting the police after the accident you can avoid having to deal with them.
Step 3: Exchange Information
Write down the following information from the other driver(s):
- Their name
- Phone number
- The make and model of car
- License plate number
- Insurance carrier
- Insurance policy number
In addition, if and when the police arrive you should obtain from them the following:
- Their phone number
- Badge number
- The number of the police report
- Request a copy of the police report also
Finally, take photographs of the scene of the accident and any other details that you think your insurance company should know about. Having all of this info will save your parents a lot of trouble later on.
Step 4: File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
After the scene is clear, you or your parents should call your insurance company immediately to start the claims process. Your insurance cards should have a 24 hours number that you can call, so be sure to call at anytime. After you have called to report the accident, your insurance agent should call you back within one business day to help you with the claim.
If you are found to be responsible for the accident, it is highly possible that your insurance premiums will go up. This is because your insurance company will see you as riskier person to insure. However, this is not always the case. Insurance companies vary in the way they deal with accidents and rate increases, so there is chance that your rate will stay the same.
Step 5: Get Looked at By a Doctor
If you haven’t already been checked out by emergency medical personnel, go see a doctor. Even if you feel fine, get yourself checked out. You may not feel any immediate symptoms right away because of the shock of having just been in an accident.
Also, some injuries don't have immediate symptoms and won’t be felt until a day or two later. But, if you don’t see a doctor right away, your parents may lose the chance to be compensated for your injuries and medical expenses. And will have to pay the bills themselves. So, get looked at by doctor as soon as possible.
Injured? Contact an Experienced California Car accident Lawyer
Remember, when it comes to driving, the goal is to be safe and get you and your passengers to your destination in one piece. If you happen to be involved in accident, stay calm and remember this check list. You will be doing yourself and your parent’s a huge favor. For more information, speak with an experienced California car accident lawyer. The attorneys at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates provide free case evaluations to any injury victims in Southern California. Call today to find out if you or your loved one have a case.