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You’re In a Car Accident… Now What?

You are driving along and out of nowhere someone runs a stop sign. Plows through a red light. Backs into your car in a parking lot. Whatever the situation, most of us have (unfortunately) experienced car accidents, from minor fender benders to totaling your vehicle. So, the next time you are in a car accident, here are steps to take to ensure you are covered for your car damage, and, more importantly, your injuries.

  • Call 911 immediately (or if you are injured, ask a passenger or bystander to make the call). The 911 rep will ask if you are injured and if your car needs towing.
  • If you are alone, call a family member or friend to be there for you.
  • Wait for the police to arrive to make their report. Find out how to get a copy of the accident report.
    NOTE: According to a local policeman, “We serve as secretaries for the insurance companies. We let them hassle it out as to where the fault lies.&quot
  • Protect the accident scene from further chaos. Pull to the side of the road and put on your blinkers or set up flares.
  • Do not talk about the accident to anyone at the scene, except the police officer.

Gather Important Information

  • Get the other driver’s name, license number, make and model of car, insurance carrier and insurance number.
  • Record the time, weather and road conditions. If possible, take photos at the accident scene.
  • If there is an impartial witness ask them, “What did you see?” Don’t put words in their mouth. Let them tell YOU what THEY saw. Make sure their name, phone number, address, and comments are included in the police report.

Contact Doctor, Insurance Carrier and Lawyer

  • See your primary doctor ASAP to report your accident. Some aches and pains may not show up until weeks and months later.
  • Contact your insurance agent and make a claim. Write down the claim number and keep it in a handy place for easy reference. Most likely, you will be working with two adjusters- one for the damages to your car and another for your medical claim.
  • If you decide to hire a lawyer, do not give a tape-recorded statement to any insurance person (including your own) unless your lawyer is with you or on the phone line at the time of the call.

Get Medical Care

  • Pay attention to your body. Note any changes in your mobility and/or your normal routine.
  • Car insurance policies include coverage for not only your car repairs, but for your medical care. You will have to fill out paperwork (including all the HIPAA forms) at the doctors’ offices for the insurance claims. Be as accurate as you can. Get copies for your records.
  • If physical therapy is advised, keep to your schedule and stretch and exercise on your “off” days to hasten your recovery. According to a physical therapist, “Our initial goal is to reduce your pain, increase your mobility and finally, strengthen the injured area(s).”

Replacements, Car Repairs and Rentals

  • If you had a baby or young child in your vehicle, replace the infant safety seat or child booster seat since it may have been damaged in the accident.
  • Your damaged car will be inspected by your insurance representative, either at a drive-in claims center and/or at the repair shop.
  • You have the right to go to the repair shop of your choice. Get recommendations from friends and associates. Ask if the shop will be using genuine manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts, especially if you have a new car.
  • The repair shop will need a few days to fix your vehicle, so take necessary items (travel mugs, sunglasses, flashlights, maps, keys, garage door opener, money, insurance card) out of your car.
  • Most insurance policies include a certain amount per day to cover the cost of a rental car. Keep the agreement in the car, as it serves as your registration. Whatever amount of fuel is in the tank when you receive the vehicle, return it with the same amount to save money.

Medical Misconceptions

Contrary to what most people think (especially insurance carriers), if there is little damage to your car it does not mean there are minor injuries to your body. Minor vehicle impacts can have major long-lasting impact on the body or MIST – Minor Impact Soft Tissue.
It has been argued, “If you can hardly see any damage to the vehicle, how can there be significant personal injury to the occupant of the vehicle?”
Engineering and medical experts acknowledge a hyperflexion/hyperextension type of injury even when the impact is “minor.”
While you may have no visible bruises or abrasions, the sudden exaggerated thrust of your head either backwards, forward or sideways – which occurs in all accidents – can cause damage to your vertebrae, discs, nerves, muscles or ligaments.
When you know an accident is about to occur, your body tenses up MORE than when you are caught off guard by a collision.
Car accidents can disrupt your schedule, affect you and your family, increase your anxiety about driving, and, in worse cases, cause nightmares and paralysis.
We are here to lessen your burden and help you maximize your recovery so you can focus on your physical, mental, and emotional healing.

Final Word

Pay the extra premium (average $300 a year) and get FULL TORT coverage and NOT limited TORT. It is worth it in the long run.