Imagine driving through San Mateo on your daily commute to work. After you stop to top off the gas tank and pick up your usual cup of coffee, you ease back out into traffic and continue on your way. A block later, another driver runs a stop sign and plows into the passenger side of your car. Now that you are sitting in the middle of the road with a severely damaged car and an unknown amount of injuries, do you know what to do?
The first steps you take after a car accident can make a huge difference in the way the car insurance company handles your claim. If you find yourself in a similar position to the above hypothetical example, follow these post-accident steps.
After you have moved your car out of the middle of the road, it is time to call 911. Even if it does not seem like any of the parties involved have life-threatening injuries, it is still a good idea to get the police and emergency personnel on the scene to assess the situation. In addition, the insurance companies will more than likely need copies of the police report in order to start the claims process.
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, take the time to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. Be sure to make a note of the make, model and license plate number of the other driver's vehicle. Also, take pictures of both cars and the accident scene.
Be cordial but don't admit fault
Feel free to make small talk with the other driver; however, steer clear of talking about the accident, and do not apologize for any role you may have played in the wreck. If you make any statements that the other driver might interpret as an admission of fault, it could seriously damage your claim.
Get witness statements
Talk to any witnesses who saw what happened. Get their contact information in case you need them to provide witness statements to the insurance companies. Being able to provide witnesses to support your claim can make a major difference in its processing.
If you have suffered an injury due to an auto accident with a negligent driver, you might be able to file a claim for the damages to your car, along with your injuries. By taking the right steps after an accident, you might be able to improve your position when it comes time to fight for the compensation you deserve.