After a motor vehicle accident happens there is often a lot of confusion. It’s often scary and under pressure. A lot happens and sometimes a lot doesn’t happen, especially if you are hurt and beginning to stiffen up. I’ve compiled a short list of the information you need after a car accident. It’s often the info you get right on the spot that makes the difference. Getting all of the insurance details lined up and a payment case flowing smoothly is useful to recovering from your injuries – it’s one less thing. As an advance summary, here is a checklist from Allstate Insurance Company.
After the wreck, if you are able to move around and there are not dramatic injuries, one of the first things you need to do is dictate into your texting window or chat window what is going on. “OK I have been in an accident at 5:50 PM on MLK Boulevard at Fremont. I was waiting at the light and it was red and this car came from behind me and hit me. The car’s license plate is ABC-123. It’s a Toyota Corolla. The other driver is not hurt. He is on his phone.” “I don’t think my car is driveable. My neck hurts. I have called the police”. The more information you can record or write down the better. By the way, were there any witnesses?
You should pull out your Driver’s License and Insurance card. You will want to take picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card, but make sure the picture comes out clearly. Lighting is important. Too often, we have seen pictures that are so blurry we can’t read anything and it is not helpful. However, last time this happened, we used photo editing apps to sharpen a copy of the picture. Watch out about editing the original photographs – make a copy. In the last accident we helped someone with, the other driver had taken a picture of their own license and texted it to them; unfortunately the picture was no good, but there was too much going on to focus on the problem.
A question for the other driver is, after “are you hurt?” – is, “Do you own that car?” Is this your vehicle? Who does own it? Do you have your own insurance? Is this card the insurance of the owner or is it yours? Can you write down your name and address on this piece of paper?” We don’t recommend that you accept money or promises to pay for your medicals or car damage. This almost always ends in a big disappointment and struggle.
The police will not come out and will not make an accident report unless someone is hurt. If you are hurt, you must tell them that up front and say “please come help me”. Even if the other driver is being difficult, police will not come to the scene unless there is injury. If they do come to the scene, they will make an accident report, but only then. If you are hurt, stay in your car and call the police and tell them you are hurt.
Definitely don’t argue with the other driver or accuse them; you need to get them to cooperate and give you their information. If anyone witnessed the accident and asks you if you are ok, ask them if hey would please give you their name and telephone number. See if they will text message their name to you. If you see their license plate number you could take a picture of it or write that down if you did not get their name. If you don’t know if you are hurt, just say you don’t know. No knowing if you are hurt does not mean you are not hurt. Wait until you have had a chance to get your bearings. Maybe one of the witnesses can help get the license number of the vehicle that hit you.
Once you have all of the information, take pictures of the scene where the cars are, especially if they are still in the accident position. Take pictures on all sides of the car that were impacted, even if the cars spun around. Are there markings on the road or is a car over a line? Take pictures of any car parts, pieces of plastic or glass that are broken or lying on the ground. If there is a number marker on the freeway, take a picture of that, and any street signs. Often a Business sign right next to you is of some use; sometimes they even have video. Take pictures of the other vehicle as well and be sure to get their license plate clearly.
Make any notes that you can about what happened in the accident, like how anything flew around in your car, or if you heard brakes squealing or tires sliding on a wet road. You will need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles and fill out an accident report within 72 hours; this can sometimes be filled out online but you will still need a printer and then a fax machine to submit it. You have a responsibility to submit a complete accident report, or your driving privileges can be suspended.
If you are hurt, and if your car has money damage, it is very often useful to talk to a lawyer to get an opinion about what your options are. If they are a good lawyer, they won’t take a case that they are not needed for. But for example, your employer may require you to use your own Paid Time Off (PTO) to get to the hospital or even to rest at home, let alone take your car to a body shop. You might have to use an expensive Lyft to get home. A lawyer can help you recover the value of those without you needing to stress. In some cases, lawyers have been able to get recovery for money spent to travel back and forth to treatments. Attorneys also have private investigators that can track down information you cannot. One of the most important functions of an attorney is that they act as the contact so the other insurance company cannot barrage you with phone calls. Remember, you must cooperate with your own insurance company and agree to a recorded statement. As for the other driver’s company, you need to be polite to them, but typically your contact with them should be limited to getting your car repaired. You should probably talk to a lawyer about what to discuss with that other driver’s company or how to work with them.
If your insurance was up to date within six months, our insurance desk can typically help you get a claim set up for you that will pay your medical bills. If the accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to a settlement, and we can’t talk to you about that, but we can help you find someone who can explain what your options are. If you have any injury, it is often the best bet to stop at the Emergency Room that day – not the next – tell them what hurts, and let them check you out. You’ll need to come into us as soon as possible to get examined. Call us and let us know what is going on and request an appointment. When you get into the clinic, we will help you assemble this information and get your claim set up.
There are two important things to remember. First, it is imperative that you let your insurance company know that there was an accident; not making a claim or informing them can allow them to cancel your policy anytime down the road. You should get care even for a minor injury. Even if the accident was not your fault, the claim must be sent to your insurance company, who pays the clinical bills. They are then reimbursed by the other insurance company by a process called Subrogation. And if the accident was your fault, you can still get care paid for by your auto insurance without having to pay it back.
Doctor Sibilla and all staff you will encounter are fully vaccinated with updated boosters. Dr. Dana’s on his fifth shot to date, updating after 90 days for optimum immunity. We are still currently masking inside the clinic, as is required for all healthcare facilities. If you don’t have an appropriate mask, we will provide you with one. Access Chiropractic safely and securely at Blue Heron Chiropractic & Healing Arts Center, with Dr. Dana Sibilla, DC DABCO FIANM.