The holiday season is upon us, and that means a lot more travelling as we visit our loved ones. While this also means more frequent auto accidents, we have a high chance on a daily basis of being involved in an accident.
I recently had a dear friend of mine involved in a nightmare of an accident that resulted in injuries and a miserable hospital stay. This was the first time they had been involved in an accident, and unfortunately they were not completely sure what to do. The at-fault party took advantage of that, and it has caused additional stress on an already stressful situation.
Let’s remedy that. Whether this is review or you are learning something new, please make sure to take note. It’s always better to be prepared.
Before we begin, I first advise that you keep a file or special holder for your auto insurance and registration in your car. This makes it easy to find; and yes, I said a hard copy of your auto insurance card. I speak from personal experience on this one. “Oh, it’s on my phone.” Great! Unless you were like me, where I was knocked unconscious and my phone was smashed. So hard copies, check!
In the event you are in an auto accident:
- Take a deep breath. Your adrenaline is going to be pumping, so take a moment to focus. Evaluate if you or any of your passengers are injured.
- Protect the scene. Move over if you can. Put down flares and turn on your Hazards/flashers to help protect you from further injury and to help prevent other accidents. If it’s at night, have a flashlight to ensure you are more visible.
- Call the police and file a police report. Keep the officers contact information. Do not let anyone talk you out of calling the police. In many states, a police report is required by law, especially if injuries occur. This is done for your protection on a number of levels.
- Sometimes the other party may not be reacting properly, so this ensures your safety.
- Arizona and most other states use an ‘at fault’ system based on tort liability. The law of tort is based on the idea that people are liable for the consequences of their actions, whether intentional or accidental, if they cause harm to another person or entity. This is used to sort out insurance claims; having a police report makes resolution much simpler as it supplies the following facts from the responding officer:
- Date, time and location of the accident
- Identifying information of all parties involved (You will need this.)
- Witness information
- Statements from all parties involved
- Educated opinion on how the accident occurred per evidence
- Accident diagrams and photos
- Citation information
- Weather, lighting, and roadway conditions
- Injury information (Many injuries can take 24-48 hours to become noticeable)
- Documentation of visible vehicle damage
- Do not say sorry or accept blame. Even if you feel you are at fault, there may be other factors, and accepting blame can be opening you to a lawsuit.
- Take pictures and video for evidence, even if the responding officer at the scene did so already.
- Seek medical attention. Many injuries may not be noticeable right away and can take up to 24-48 hours to really come to light. This is especially true with muscle and cartilage injuries that can result even from small fender-benders. Make sure to have your auto claim number available as you seek medical attention, so all records and bills and itemized statements can be sent to the adjuster.
- Make sure to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If your car is not drivable, make sure to have your carrier send the tow company. Do not have the police call a tow company for you. Give as much information as possible to your claim adjuster and get a claim number.
- Keep a file. This will help you not only stay organized, but you will have evidentiary support in the event you need it.
Aside from keeping a file or folder for your hard copy of your auto insurance card and registration, I would also advise keeping a first aid kit in your vehicle as well.
Another preventative measure is to ensure that you have the proper amount of coverage in the event of an at-fault accident, or for uninsured and underinsured coverages. To make sure that you have the protection you need in the event of an accident, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my direct line at 480-385-7383. Consider me your personal assistant for your insurance needs!