You've just been involved in a car wreck. Your heart is pounding. Your mind is racing. You are angry. You are going to be late to work. Your car is totaled and now you have to get it fixed. You did not expect to be at the emergency room this morning. Now, you don't know what to do at the scene.
Follow these 5 steps so you can protect yourself against the insurance companies, including your own.
Step 1: Call 911 (The Police)
Always call the cops. Sometimes they will not come out there, but it is always good to make a record that you tried. If your car cannot be safely moved or visible injuries are present, the police will come out there. Otherwise, they will tell you to exchange information and move on. However, make sure that you call the police and report everything that happened. It is important to call the police and make a record so it can be pulled later on. The defense lawyers like to make a big deal about it not being important if the police didn't show up at the scene. The defense lawyers like to make a big deal about the wreck not causing your injuries if there was not a police report done. Let's defeat these myths and lies upfront by calling the police. We all know that the police cannot and do not come out to the scene of every wreck. However that does not mean the wreck never happened and someone wasn't injured.
Step 2: Take Pictures
When I say take pictures, I do not just mean of your car. Take pictures of the scene, your car, their car, their driver's license, their insurance card, and their license plates. You never know what will happen once you all leave the scene of a wreck. The other driver may have a false ID or expired license plates. The other driver may not be insured. If you take pictures of only your car, the other driver may have their vehicle fixed before anyone knows. Most importantly, it allows you to preserve the evidence of exactly what everything looked like that day and at that moment. Take more pictures of the scene and vehicles than may be necessary.
Step 3: Get Witness Information
If anyone is in your vehicle, stops for you or is around the scene, make sure to get their contact information. You will need their full name, phone number, email address, and if possible, mailing address. They will become vital later on. At the very least, get their full name and phone number.
Many of you will say, well the police officer will note down all witness information in his report. Sometimes they do. Most times they don't. Let me tell you a story. Recently, a drunk driver was driving near my office, swerving all over the road, and texting while driving. He slammed into the back of my parked truck while I was at work. Then, he bounced into another car and ultimately was forced to come to a stop when his tire fell off. The police came to the scene and got all the information. Several witnesses saw what happened and showed up. I assumed they would be in the police report. One thankfully left a note on my windshield. When I came up to my truck, several folks told me what happened and I got their information. Thankfully, because a week later when we got the police report, there were no witnesses listed.
This happens more than we like to think. So, make sure if you are physically able to, get witness information. You may never need them, but if you do, you will be glad you did.
Step 4: The Exchange
Always get the other driver and any passengers' contact information. This will become vital when you are sorting our insurance information, responsibility, and trying to figure out what happened. Many times we forget to take a picture of the other driver's insurance card. Why is this important? If there is no police report and you don't take a picture of it, how can you make a claim? You need to at the very least write it all down.
Within the exchange, you need to make sure that you get a picture of their license plate and drivers' licenses. This will help if the other driver needs to be found because they are don't want a claim against them. The more information you can have about them the better.
Step 5: Keep These Steps
Most times, people do the right thing. But when they don't, you need to be prepared. Print this page off and keep it in your car. Protect yourself and your family by being prepared. Hopefully, you and your loved ones are never in a car wreck. Yet, if you are and need somewhere to turn to know what to do, you can always reach out to us. Get the information you need to get informed. We are here for you.
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