Most car crash victims automatically assume that the other driver will be truthful with their automobile insurance company and that, in turn, the auto insurance company will treat them fairly when dealing with their personal injury or property damage claim. While people are usually truthful, you cannot just assume that a different version of the crash won’t be told to the insurance company. And you certainly cannot expect the other driver’s insurance company to treat you fairly when processing your claim. Here’s a list of seven things that you can do at the scene of the crash to protect yourself.
- Make sure that everyone is ok. The very first thing to do after a car crash is to make sure that everyone is physically ok. If someone in your car is injured, they should immediately seek medical attention.
- Collect witness information. The largest problem in a case where liability is disputed is that the only two people who are around a year later to testify about how the crash happened are you and the other driver. Without independent witnesses, a case can easily be lost. It is important to collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of any other drivers who saw the crash so that they can serve as witnesses if your case goes to trial.
- Take pictures. We used to advise people to carry a disposable camera in their glovebox, but almost everyone these days has a camera on their phone. You can take pictures of the property damage to your car and the other driver’s car before they get towed away. You should also take pictures of the cross-streets, lighting conditions and anything else at the scene that might have contributed to the crash.
- Exchange information with the other driver. You will want to get the other driver’s name, phone number and address, as well as the name and policy number of his auto insurance policy.
- Take notes. It is important to record how the crash happened and how you are feeling as soon as possible, while the events are still fresh in your mind. This will help you remember for later. Did you hear screeching tires? Did your airbags go off? Was there honking? All of these details are important.
- Call the police. Getting the police to the scene as soon as possible will serve two purposes. First, it will secure the accident scene and may prevent you from being struck by other traffic while you are exchanging information with the other driver. Second, in a Virginia car accident, police will create an accident report that commemorates the crash and lists all the pertinent details.
- Call your own insurance company. You will want to report this crash to your own insurance company even if you are not at fault because you may have MedPay benefits on your auto policy that will pay for some of your medical bills. In addition, it may be easier for you to get your car repaired by going directly through your own auto insurance company and then getting reimbursed for the deductible after the insurance companies have been able to determine whose fault the crash was. Sometimes the other driver’s company will drag their feet when processing your claim and require recorded statements about your physical wellbeing that may be used against you later in a personal injury case.