There’s never a convenient time for a car accident. But if you were to make a list of the most inconvenient times to be involved in a wreck, vacation would undoubtedly come in at the top. Yet life happens and there isn’t always something you can do to prevent an accident from impacting your trip. Knowing how to respond is half the battle.
6 Things to Do After an Accident
More than 6 million car accidents occur each year in the United States. If you’re one of the thousands of unfortunate drivers who find themselves in an accident while on vacation, you’ll want to proceed with caution. Here are some suggested action steps:
Check for Injuries and Get Treatment
The first step is to check for injuries. With adrenaline coursing through your veins, it’s easy for an injury to go unnoticed for a few minutes or hours. This is why it’s important to physically check your body for injuries and to get treatment for any signs or symptoms that you experience (no matter how minor they may appear to be).
Call the Authorities
The next step is to call the proper authorities so that you can file a police report and have the incident documented. When it comes time to file an insurance claim, you’ll need official documentation. Don’t skip this step!
Gather Information and Evidence
While you’re waiting on the police and/or EMS to be dispatched to the scene, take some time to gather information and collect any evidence that you believe is important. This may include damaged pieces of your vehicle, the license plate number of other vehicles involved, contact information of witnesses, and photographs of the scene.
It’s always smart to personally document what happened. Memory is a fickle thing and it’s easy to forget details in the hours and days after the accident occurs. Grab your phone and make a voice recording describing everything that happened. If nothing else, this will jog your memory when it comes time to file a claim.
Notify the Appropriate Parties
If you were driving a rental car in the accident, you must notify the rental car company of the accident as soon as possible. Even if you refused insurance from the rental car company, you may still have coverage under your own auto insurance policy. Keep this in mind as you file the necessary paperwork and contact the right people.
Arrange for New Transportation
Assuming you’re okay to continue your vacation, you should ensure your vehicle is okay to drive or arrange for new transportation. If arranging for new transportation, speak with the car rental company about how they handle these situations. They should be able to offer you a comparable vehicle without any significant upcharges.
If you’re injured and unable to continue on your trip, seek immediate treatment and wait for doctor’s orders before traveling back home.
Talk With an Attorney
If it’s a minor fender bender without any accidents, perhaps you’ll be fine. But in the majority of cases, it’s wise to contact an attorney to ensure you’re protected. Because even if the claim seems straightforward, you can easily get taken for a ride.
“Negotiating with insurance companies isn’t an easy task,” Greenstein & Milbauer explains. “They don’t want to pay out on injury claims. They will do everything they can to deny your claim—or at least reduce the amount they must pay you. They use a variety of tactics to do this.”
An attorney has the experience to know what your case is worth and the skill to fight back against lowball offers and claims. And because car accident attorneys typically operate on a contingency fee basis, you won’t have to worry about racking up an expensive bill that you can’t afford to pay. Use this to your advantage!
Every car accident is different. But regardless of whether it’s a minor fender bender or a serious collision, you have to respond with caution and purpose. Hopefully this article has provided you with some helpful ideas regarding exactly how you can manage the situation.