Car crashes can be extremely disorienting. During the chaos that follows a serious accident, it is hard to know what to do. However, if you have an idea of what steps you should take before you are ever involved in a crash, you may have the presence of mind to take some important actions that will protect a future injury claim.
Who to Call After a Crash
If there were any injuries in the crash—including minor ones, 911 should be called so that an ambulance will arrive and people will receive appropriate medical care. Following any crash, the police should be called to investigate the crash and issue tickets, if necessary. If you were not at fault in the crash, this will be very important to a later property damage or personal injury claim.
Depending upon the nature of the accident and the extent of the damages and injuries involved, a series of auto accident reports must be filed. Sometimes the reporting of an auto accident is mandatory, sometimes it is voluntary. Reports typically must be filed with two organizations:
- Police. The law of the state where the accident occurs may require a police report to be filed. However, as there are many variations in state and local laws—and even local practices—we cannot address them all. Generally, if an injury occurs in an auto accident, a police report must be filed. A police report generally also is required when property damage exceeds a certain dollar amount (often $200 to $500). The manner of making the report also varies. Some local police only take certain auto accident reports over the telephone, some require a trip to the station house. To be safe, at least a telephone call to local police should be made shortly after an auto accident to determine local practice and the information you are required to provide.
- Insurance company. Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to promptly report every auto accident. The insurance company will want to gather all of the basic information concerning the accident for its records. Sometimes the insurance company will want your authorization to make a recorded statement concerning the accident. We suggest that if you or your passengers were injured in the accident, or believe the insurance company will try to claim "you're not covered" or you have any concerns about the adequacy of your coverage, you should contact an attorney before you go much further, and certainly before you give the insurance company permission to record your conversation. However, bear in mind that failure to provide information to your insurance company on a timely basis could result in loss of coverage for the accident without it constituting bad faith by the insurer. Your policy will set out how quickly you must notify the company (and it can be a VERY short time frame).
When You Should Also Call an Attorney
In a minor crash with shared liability, it is probably not necessary to call a car accident attorney. However, if you believe you were not at fault and the other driver disputes that, you may want an attorney to represent you when you challenge his insurance company. If you have suffered catastrophic injuries, you should also call an attorney as he or she will work to get you a fair settlement. If you are in a serious crash in Indiana, you can trust the experienced car accident lawyers at Keller & Keller. Contact us today.