You’re enjoying a much-needed vacation with your family and suddenly, your sunny disposition is interrupted by a crash! You’ve just been involved in a car accident. You’re startled and unsure of what to do. You’re from out of town and don’t have the slightest idea of what steps you should take. Where’s the nearest hospital or medical facility? If your car is damaged, where should you have it towed for repairs? How does an insurance claim work when you’re out of town? When faced with a scenario such as this, the best thing you can do is remain calm and follow the steps below:
- Contact the Police and Medical Emergency
The very first thing you want to do if in an accident while on vacation is to contact the local authorities as well as medical emergency services if you or your family members are injured. Prior to contacting them, make sure that you’re aware of the location of the accident by checking street signs or asking someone nearby.
Tip: Some might be inclined to reject the need for medical attention because they “feel fine”. However, seriousaccidents.com, a website for a San Diego personal injury attorney, points out that if you or someone you love has been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. As some injuries can be internal and/or occur after time has passed you should seriously consider medical services even if you don’t feel like you need it as it can make a difference should you decide to file a lawsuit.
- Take Photos
If you’re able, take pictures of your car, the other vehicle, other damaged property as well as the scene of the accident. This information will be instrumental in helping police and insurance adjusters in determining fault and cause of the accident. Once you’ve taken some photos, if you can, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic. If the car is smoking, or disabled, however, leave it and move yourself and family members out of harm’s way until authorities arrive.
Tip: If you can, make note of any cameras you might seem visible at the accident scene. Whatever you weren’t able to catch in photos could be discovered from pulling video.
- Collect Driver and Witness Information
Now that everyone is out of harm’s way and the authorities have been called you’ll want to exchange information with the other driver as well as survey the area for witnesses. Without admitting fault, get their driver’s license, name, address, and contact number. Also, get their insurance information. Then, ask any witnesses for their name, address and phone number to provide a statement. At no time during this process should you admit fault.
Tip: Simply apologizing could be an implication of fault. Therefore, when collecting information from the other driver, despite their physical condition or the condition of their vehicle, you should refrain from apologetic or guilty rhetoric.
- File Police Report
Once the authorities arrive on the scene you should file a report. Again, try as much as you can not to admit fault and simply give your account for what happened step by step. Once the police have taken statements from everyone, find out when and how you can retrieve a copy of the report. Hopefully, you can get a copy prior to going back home.
- File an Insurance Claim
Finally, you’ll need to talk with your insurance company. File a claim detailing all the information you have. Be sure to send witness information, the other driver’s information, the police report, and any photos you took. From there, your insurance company will contact the company of the other driver.
Tip: You’ll need to find out where you’ll need to have your car repaired. Your insurance company may not be willing to have your vehicle towed all the way back home before making repairs. Therefore, you’ll want to find out what mechanics they have in their network and how you can obtain a rental until your car is repaired.
No one ever plans for an accident to take place while on a family vacation but the truth is it could happen at any moment. Knowing which steps to take in advance can help make a traumatic experience a lot less stressful. Follow each of the above-mentioned steps as best you can and if necessary, hire a personal injury attorney in the state where the accident occurred for the best law-specific guidance on your case.