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What to Do After an Auto Accident – 6 Steps

Compassionate Nashville plaintiff attorneys at Gilreath & Associates explains what drivers must do if they're involved in a car collision

Thousands of motorists are involved in auto accidents every year. If you're involved in an accident, will you know what to do following the collision?

Auto accidents are distressing for everyone involved, both financially and emotionally. If you've avoided a serious accident, that's wonderful, but it's likely that at some point you'll be involved in one. Knowing what to do in advance can help you deal with the unexpected.

If you're involved in a car accident, try to remain calm, and follow these 6 steps:

  1. Practice safety until help arrives. If you are involved in a minor accident with no serious injuries you can drive your car to the roadside and out of the path of traffic. Vehicles left in the middle of the road or intersection can result in additional accidents and injuries. If your car cannot be moved, drivers and passengers should remain inside with seatbelts fastened until help arrives. Turn on the hazard lights. If you have them, set out cones, flares or warning triangles.
  2. Exchange driver and insurance information. After the accident, exchange the following information:
    • Name, address, and phone number.
    • Insurance company contact information and policy number. Is the driver's name different from the name of the insured? If so, ask what the relationship is and write down the name and address for each person.
    • Driver license number, license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle.
    • Write a description of each vehicle, including year, make, model and color.
    • Record the exact location of the collision and how it happened.

    Be calm and polite. Do not tell the other drivers or law enforcement that the accident was your fault, even if you think so.

  3. Photograph the car accident scene. Use your cell phone camera, or a camera kept in the glove box, to document vehicle damage, the accident scene, and injuries. Your photos need to show the overall aftermath of the accident for the claims adjuster and in order to build evidence for your case. We recommend photographing these items:
    • Damage to vehicles and/or property.
    • Accident scene, including road conditions, skid marks, debris in roadway and vehicle positions.
    • Accident scene location; intersection, address and/or exit number.
    • Identification photos of insurance cards, license plates, and more.
  4. Get witness information. Try to get the contact information for all accident witnesses. They may be able to help you if there's a dispute with the other drivers about what happened. We recommend that you document the following:
    • Names, phone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses of witnesses, including the occupants in the other vehicle(s).
    • If emergency services respond, include the police department name and phone number, police report number, officer name, badge number, and contact information for the ambulance company and fire department.
  5. File an accident report. Sometimes law enforcement officers will not respond to accidents unless there are injuries. If an officer does not respond to your minor accident, you should file a state vehicle accident report, which is available at police stations and you can often find it on the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site. A police report is best as it can speed up the insurance company's claims process.
  6. Contact your insurance agency. The insurance process can be complicated. It's best to know the details of your coverage before you contact your insurance company. We recommend reviewing your insurance policy before calling the agency.
Lastly, who will pay for the damages? How can you prove fault in an auto accident? The other driver may agree to pay for your car repair on the day of the accident, but may change his mind after seeing the repair cost estimate or bills. Its one reason collecting evidence at the accident scene is crucial should you later need to file a claim or lawsuit.

You also don't know if another driver will report the accident to his insurance company. He may claim injuries that weren't apparent at the accident scene. It could mean that your insurance company ends up paying him a sizable settlement, or worse, you could be sued. Make sure that you collect evidence, and the insurance company has your detailed version of what happened.

If you were involved in a car accident, then you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver.
The first thing you should do is seek medical attention for injuries. Once you have been treated, file a police report and contact a Tennessee auto accident attorney at Gilreath & Associates immediately to discuss your legal rights.

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Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
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