Car accidents can happen to even the best drivers! Unfortunately the aftermath is often complicated, but if you take the right steps in the days following, you can avoid a lot of the frustration. Here are some clear do’s and don’ts:
- Do pull over to a safe spot and turn on your hazard lights.
- Don’t leave. Even if there doesn’t appear to be damage, never leave the scene of an accident before exchanging information with other drivers and filing an accident report with the police.
- Don’t call 911 unless it’s an emergency situation. Call 911 if anyone is seriously injured, or the cars or debris are a hazard on the road. Otherwise, it’s fine to call the closest police station.
- Do call the police. In Utah and many other states, it’s legally required to file an accident report for any accident resulting in damage of $1500 or more (to your car or person). Since whiplash can happen easily and even minor vehicle damage can have repair costs of $3000 or more, it’s better to be safe than sorry and call the police. Having an officer confirm all the details on scene will also protect you from false claims down the road.
At the Scene:
- Do exchange insurance information with the other drivers.
- Don’t admit fault or discuss insurance limits with the other party.
- Don’t accept any offers from the other party to “pay out” right then, in lieu of insurance. Immediately after an accident, you’re in no position to assess the extent of injuries and property damage that the crash has caused.
- Do give an honest report to the police of what happened.
- Don’t deny any injuries right away. Often injuries can take days or even weeks after an accident to manifest. It’s better to tell the officer that you’re not sure yet than to deny injuries on the record and risk being refused insurance coverage later.
- Don’t forget to make a note of the officer’s name and badge number as well as the police report number.
- Do take pictures of any damage or injuries.
- Do call your insurance right away to start the claim process.
- Don’t deny any injuries until after you’ve seen a chiropractor or other physician.
- Do seek medical attention. For any serious injuries, like a concussion or fractures, go to the ER or Instacare right away. It is also recommended to visit a chiropractor within 48 hours. Even if no injuries are apparent, whiplash can occur at less than 5 MPH and can have lasting effects if left untreated.
- Don’t avoid needed medical treatment because of cost. Utah is considered a “no fault” state, meaning that your insurance is legally obligated to pay for medical expenses resulting from an auto injury regardless of whether you were at fault or not.
- Do consider legal help. If there are any major damages or injuries, consult with a personal injury lawyer. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and are paid from “contingency fees” that come from a settled case. In short, if they don’t win your case, you don’t pay.