The sudden impact of a car crash often makes it hard to have a clear head and know what to do next. Your injuries may be minor or severe, and the details you get in the moments following the accident are vital for your car accident claim.
While you should prioritize your medical treatment, you will want to gather the following details after a car accident. You’ll also want to be sure you get the police on the scene to create a report that states what happened. These reports will have a different name depending on where the accident takes place. For example, if the incident happens in CA, the police will file the CHP crash reports. Once they’ve been processed, you’ll be able to access them online.
Information You Should Exchange After Any Type of Car Accident
You might already know that it is important to exchange information with anyone involved in the crash. However, there are certain details to gather that can help make the process go more smoothly.
Names of Every Party Involved
Some accidents will involve multiple vehicles while others will only be between two cars. No matter how many are involved, you should get the first and last names of all drivers and passengers who were in the accident.
If anyone witnessed what happened, you should also get their full names. Make sure you spell them correctly, too.
Addresses and Phone Numbers
In addition to the names of each person, you’ll want to get information on how to reach them. Ideally, having their home and email addresses along with phone numbers is important — though if they only provide some of these details, it’s better than nothing.
Some people prefer to be contacted on their cell phones when they are at work. Others prefer email as their contact method. It helps to find out which way each person would rather be contacted about the accident in the future.
Driver’s License Numbers
It can be helpful to have the driver’s license numbers for everyone involved. However, you should know that no one is required to show you their license. They will need to show the police, though, so that information will be recorded in the police report.
The most important thing is to get as much information as you can. Getting a look at the driver’s license can be helpful with spelling complicated names, too. If someone is willing to show you their license, you’ll have more information. If not, don’t push the issue.
Instead of chasing after the other parties for their driver’s licenses, there are pieces of information you can get without saying a word. Take photos and videos of the vehicles involved in the accident. You should also take notes about the make, model, color, and license plate numbers. The year may not be easy to discern without looking at the auto insurance policy, though it is an important piece of information.
Some vehicles have unique indicators on them such as specialized wheels, paint colors, rims, or stickers. Take note of all of these things. You can also see about getting the VIN of the vehicles involved to ensure it is lawfully owned. This vehicle identification number is usually located on the inside of the driver’s side door. In some vehicles, it may be visible when looking at the bottom of the front windshield from the outside.
Name of the Policyholder
After an accident, you may find that the driver of the vehicle is either not the owner of the car or the person who has the auto insurance policy on the vehicle. If this information is different, you can ask the driver who is listed on the policy.
It doesn’t matter who is paying for the insurance policy. What does matter is the name of the insurance carrier and the policy number that pertains to the vehicle involved in the accident. In all car accidents, drivers are expected to exchange contact and insurance information. You can ask for the insurance card, which will list the auto insurer as well as the policy number. You will need this information to file a third-party claim.
What to Do After You Get These Details
When you have as many of these details as you can get, you will want to notify your own auto insurer about the car accident. This will alert them that someone may try to file a third-party claim on the policy.
If the other driver caused the accident, the fault-based laws in the state will have them pay for your financial losses from the accident. However, expect lots of finger-pointing, which will have both insurers investigating.
They may try to assign you some of the blame, too, which could reduce your compensation. In some cases, you may be assigned more than 50% of the blame, which means you cannot receive any money for your losses.
This is why you need to take the right steps after an auto accident. You should start by calling the police and getting medical attention, even if you don’t think you’re hurt. You should gather as much information as you can about all the involved parties.
After that, you should make sure you get legal representation from an attorney who has advocated for car accident victims. The stakes are far too high, and without someone to stand up for you, you may wind up incurring more blame than you deserve. This would mean you’d be stuck with expensive medical bills while losing out on your income because of your injuries.
Most car accident victims do not realize how much an accident can cost them. Attorneys are experienced in calculating the damages after an accident to include future medical costs and loss of earning capacity. They also factor in your non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and mental anguish.
If you have serious injuries, you are in for a long recovery. Instead of stressing yourself out further, legal counsel can ensure everything is handled while you work on healing.