Immediately following a car accident, it is understandable if you feel dazed, confused and even angry at the driver who crashed into you. However, it is important that you do not let these emotions get the better of you, as maintaining a calm demeanor can help you work through the post-accident process meticulously and accurately.
What is the post-accident process, though? From gathering the other driver’s information to filing an insurance claim, NerdWallet details the top steps to take immediately after an accident.
Check yourself and other parties for injuries
Immediately after the collision, assess yourself for injuries. If you are able, check other vehicle occupants for injuries as well. If you or anyone else sustained considerable harm, call an ambulance and 911. If everyone appears fine, consider contacting the police regardless, as a police report can serve as a valuable tool in insurance negotiations.
Exchange information with the other driver
While state laws vary on what type of and how much information parties of a crash must exchange, they generally require drivers to provide their names and insurance information. That said, while you want to limit interaction with the other driver as much as possible so you do not accidentally say something that could implicate you, you should strive to gather as much information as possible. Information that can help in insurance settlement negotiations including the following:
- The name and contact information of the other driver
- The other driver’s insurance information
- The names and contact information of any witnesses
- The name and contact information of the officer who arrived at the scene
- Photos of any damage
You should also make notes regarding the accident, such as detailing how it occurred and the aftermath.
Assess coverage options to determine which will apply
Whose insurance will cover the cost of damages, and which policies, will boil down to fault and the extent of damages. Assuming the other driver was at fault, his or her insurance policy should cover both property damage and your medical expenses up to the limits. If the other driver did not have insurance, or if the coverage was not enough to pay for the entirety of your expenses, your uninsured or underinsured policy would kick in, assuming you have such coverage.
Rider policies, such as collision coverage or rental car coverage, may cover additional expenses. If you sustained serious injuries that resulted in extensive medical bills, you may have the option to sue the other driver for additional compensation.