No one ever really knows how to react to a car crash until they’re in one. You can prepare yourself in advance by reading and understanding some basic information about what you should and should not do in the immediate aftermath.
Your insurance company will want to talk to you about the accident, and in most cases, you should call them to report the crash soon after it happens. Get a sense of what you should and should not say to your insurance company after your accident.
Get the Facts Straight
The events of a crash often happen so quickly that the details may prove difficult to recall. When speaking with the insurance company, you want to give them some basic facts about what happened before, during and after the crash.
Where the crash happened is important since some of these details will go a long way in proving how the crash occurred. You could give the closest intersections or nearby businesses if the accident happened on an urban street. Mile markers or exit numbers are sufficient if the crash happened on a rural road or interstate.
Other details of the scene include the time, weather and road conditions. These elements provide pieces to the crash. The time of the crash matters because it can help the insurance company establish traffic patterns, either heavy during commuting or light during overnight hours. The weather may impact the way drivers behave and road conditions. You should also report any construction in the vicinity of the crash.
The vehicles themselves are the most important pieces of evidence of how a crash happened. You should provide the insurance company with some of the details, including:
- Make and model
- Location of damage
- Vehicle registration
If you notice prior crash damage to the other vehicle, you should report this to the insurance company as well.
You or the police should gather personal information from each of the occupants. You will want to provide your insurance company with the other driver’s name, address and insurance information. The insurer will want to eventually contact any passengers in your vehicle to provide some further details. However, passengers in car accidents are not viewed as credible witnesses when it comes to determining liability.
For that, you will need to gather the names and phone numbers of those people who stopped directly after the crash. Third-party witness statements may provide insurance companies with powerful evidence used in reconstructing the crash and determining who was responsible for causing the accident.
Do Use Pictures To Help
Photographs are important to car accident investigations. If you or someone else at the scene can take pictures, do so. You should do this immediately after the crash to get an accurate depiction of how the vehicles came to rest. The first instinct after an accident is to move the cars out of the way, and while this is crucial, if at all possible, you should snap at least one or two photos of the immediate aftermath.
The way the vehicles came to rest can help show the insurance company investigators the mechanics of the accident. If it is not possible, return to the scene and take photos of debris, skid marks and any other indicators of the crash. You can use these, along with pictures of the cars, to help explain the crash to the insurance representative when giving your statement.
Do Report all Injuries
An important element of an insurance statement has to do with the injuries any party in the crash suffered. You will report whether the hospital transported anyone from the scene. This includes you. While you do not have to go directly to the hospital after a crash, you should get a comprehensive medical checkup whether you think you need it or not.
Adrenaline is a powerful chemical that may keep pain and damage to the body under wraps until hours after the crash. Once you start to feel the effects on the body, you need to pay close attention to the signs that there is something much worse than the bumps and bruises you believe are harmless. Some underlying injuries may prove downright detrimental and dangerous to your health.
A Traumatic Brain Injury may not manifest as much at first, especially if you do not have any external signs of a head injury. However, the brain may have contacted the skull causing it to swell, bruise or even bleed. The signs that your brain is in distress include:
- Headache that gets more intense
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision or ringing in the ears
- Memory deficiency
If a brain injury goes undiagnosed for too long, the impacts may become permanent and rise to a catastrophic level.
The spinal column protects the ultra-sensitive cord that runs from your brain and is responsible for transmitting messages back and forth between the body and the brain. Even a minor injury can lead to weakness, numbness and difficulty with movement. The more serious the damage, the more likely you will experience permanent paralysis from the point of spinal cord injury down.
What To Watch for When Giving an Insurance Statement
There are some things you should not say or do when giving a statement to your insurance company. If you are unsure about a detail, you should not guess, even if the representative prompts you to. When you do not know the answer to a question, tell them. Once you give them an answer, it becomes part of the record and can come back against you later on. The same goes for injuries. Do not tell the insurer that you feel fine or only have minor injuries. This may hinder your injury case in the future.
Finally, never admit guilt or fault for the crash. If there is a chance that you did something that led to the crash, you should speak to an attorney before giving any kind of statement to the insurance company. Do not apologize or say anything that leads the insurer to conclude you caused the crash.
New York No-Fault Laws
Under New York’s no-fault laws, people involved in crashes can only pursue personal injury cases if they experience an economic loss greater than the limits of their insurance coverage. Most of this will come under injuries suffered by drivers or vehicle occupants. You can only seek recovery for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, if a medical provider deems your injuries serious or catastrophic.
We Want To Help!
Navigating the tricky and daunting insurance claims process requires a sense of familiarity. If you choose to speak to the insurer without representation, keep these tips in mind. At any point in the accident investigation process, you have the right to retain an attorney.
Our team of qualified professionals stands ready to assist you in any way we can. To find out if we can help, contact us either by telephone or through our website. Your life may change drastically after a crash. The loss of income, the medical bills and the damage to your personal property may weigh heavily on you. Let us try and see if we can help you through the process wherever you find yourself now.