What to Do After Being In a Car Accident
People get into crashes regularly, especially in the United States. Many people own or rent cars, which puts them at greater risk of being in anything from a mild fender bender to a serious wreck. After being in a car accident, it can be tough to know what to do first. However, following a few rules of thumb can help you get through the experience emotionally, medically, occupationally, and financially.
What should you do after being in a car accident? Check out the following recommendations to ensure that you make the right calls.
Contact Your Insurer
Most people spend about $92 every month on premiums to their car insurance providers. All that money goes toward ensuring that you’ll be covered as much as possible if you’re in a crash. Therefore, after being in a car accident, you will want to contact your insurance agent or representative as soon as you can.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to call your insurer if you only dinged your bumper against the garage door. Small repairs probably won’t be covered by your insurance carrier, anyway. Usually, you’ll have some kind of a deductible, whether it’s low or high. If your bills are likely to exceed the deductible limit, make the phone call after being in a car accident. Otherwise, you can just get your car repaired, not to mention the garage door you may have hit!
Get Medical Attention
Were you hurt during your car crash? A lot of people who get into accidents wind up with injuries, even if they’re only slight. And what seems like a small problem can lead to big issues.
Take broken or sprained ribs, for example. Broken and sprained ribs are common, especially if the force of the crash threw you against your seat belt. Most physicians will just tell you to take it easy and not do any kind of physical activity that could exacerbate your problem. If you didn’t get a doctor’s advice, however, you might just assume that you bruised your side. You could cause very serious internal damage if you didn’t realize that your ribs were broken or sprained.
Even if you don’t think that anything happened to you and that you have complete body function after being in a car accident, get treatment. You don’t have to accept emergency medical help at the site. Nevertheless, seek it out soon after. Make an appointment at your family doctor’s office and get checked out.
Remember that anything physical that happened because of the crash could require medical attention down the road. Let’s say your teeth were knocked loose. You might need emergency dental attention to fix the problem, such as expensive braces treatment or a restorative dental solution. You’ll never know, though, until you get looked at by a physician.
As an important side note, make sure you keep your trips to the doctor well-documented. If your insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance is covering the cost of your medical bills, you want to have them all prepared to send to the correct insurance adjuster.
Hire a Lawyer
Maybe the last thing you’re thinking about as you walk away from the crash after being in a car accident is getting in touch with an attorney. Nonetheless, you could wind up needing some family legal advise.
When should you contact a legal professional to talk about your crash? Honestly, some people who are injured call a lawyer right away, even before they submit an insurance claim. If you’ve been extensively hurt, it might not be a bad idea to get an attorney involved sooner rather than later.
Insurance companies tend to balk at paying large settlements, even for very serious injuries. They may even deny your claim and accuse you of not telling the truth about the extent of your wounds. A lawyer can help you get a fair settlement that will adequately cover all of your medical bills as well as other various bills you may have collected.
One word of caution: Lawyers don’t work for free. When you’re represented by an attorney, you can expect that the attorney will take a certain percentage of any insurance settlements you win. If your settlement isn’t worth more than a few thousand dollars, getting a lawyer to intervene may not be the best bet. On the other hand, however, hiring a lawyer will ensure you are taken care of properly. It’s also a good idea if the insurance company is giving you a hard time.
Talk to Your Employer
Many people have unfortunately been forced to leave their work after being in a car accident because they were too traumatized to come back, or they couldn’t physically do the same work as they did before due to injuries they sustained. A good way to keep yourself in better standing with your employer is to be upfront about your crash. Immediately after being in a car accident, call your supervisor and the human resources manager. Explain the situation and talk about what’s happening to you. The company may offer some kind of short-term leave options that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Of course, after being in a car accident, you should never just leave your employer hanging. Calling in sick day after day without giving anyone a heads up is a recipe for disaster. The more honest you are, the better chance you have of your employer working with you while you’re on the mend.
Another reason to stay in your employer’s good graces is that you may need their help with your insurance claim. A settlement offer may cover your lost wages. A statement from your employer could help prove that you couldn’t come to work, or that you couldn’t safely perform the same work duties because of injuries suffered during your car crash.
Figure Out Your Financial Situation Regarding Medical Expenses
Medical expenses tend to creep up. Even if you have excellent health insurance plans with robust eye and dental care options through your job or your spouse’s employer, you may still have plenty of out-of-pocket costs. Some healthcare packages will fight with insurers, with each entity trying to make the other pay for your bills. In the meantime, you may have to front the money to satisfy the healthcare providers. And that can leave you in an uncomfortable financial situation.
Whenever possible, try to understand what your personal responsibility will be before getting any type of treatment or undergoing tests or surgery. Sometimes, this can be hard to find out. Be persistent. Try to get as much information as you can so you’re not faced with sudden sticker shock. The last thing you want is to get a bill for tens of thousands of dollars. One of the biggest reasons many families consider bankruptcy is because of an unexpected medical emergency. Don’t let yourself think that everything will be all right. Make sure that you understand where you stand financially in terms of medical bills after being in a car accident.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get the treatment you need. If it will help you, keep your appointments, take your medications, and stick with the plan your physician suggests. Your goal is to get well again, not to stay unable to go to work. You just want to stay on top of your financial obligations as part of the process.
Figure Out Your Financial Situation Regarding Car Damage Expenses
In addition to determining what you owe medical providers, you’ll also want to find out how much you can expect to pay for car damages. For instance, do you have to take your vintage vehicle to a custom car shop for repairs? If so, what will those repairs cost, especially if you insist on getting original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts?
If you find out that your car damages will break your budget, you have a few choices. You could drive the car as-is, as long as it’s still safe to be on the road. Or, you could pay to keep it in storage services somewhere until you get a settlement payment from the insurance company. As long as you have another way of getting around, you may want to opt not to have the vehicle touched until you have a check in hand.
Make a Plan If You’re Hurt and You Have Young Kids
Being a parent requires you to be available for your kids 24/7, even after being in a car accident. Yet, you could be hurt and need to make special arrangements for your children. For example, who can take them to day care in the morning and pick them up at night if you’re not able to drive right away? A friend, family member, or neighbor could possibly help. You’ll never know if you don’t get in touch with everyone in your sphere of influence.
Creating a plan can make the experience of having an injured parent easier on your children, too. They’ll always know what’s happening, which will be a comfort to them. Even though their schedules may change, such as having to take the school bus instead of being driven, they will adjust. Just be calm and patient, explaining that your injury is temporary and you all have to make mini-lifestyle adjustments and accommodations.
Don’t think that just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean that you can’t be an effective parent, though. Even if you’re bedridden for a few days or even weeks, you can still help your kids with their homework, engage in board games with them, and just have special moments to talk about what’s going on in their lives.
Do Yourself a Favor In the Case You Are Arrested
What if you’re arresting after being in a car accident because you are accused of driving while under the influence? In that situation, you’ll want to contact a bail bond company and hire a criminal defense lawyer.
The bail bond company will help you pay to get out of jail so you don’t have to remain incarcerated. Just make sure that you understand the contract that you sign with the bail bondsman. And never, ever skip out on any court appearances or you could forfeit everything and owe the bond company quite a bit more than the original bail amount.
The criminal defense lawyer will help you understand what your rights are after being in a car accident and being subsequently arrested. Criminal defense lawyers are experts in the art of the law and negotiations. You’ll pay an upfront fee to retain the lawyer, and you can expect that the attorney will not be cheap. However, it’s worth getting a good lawyer to handle your case. You may even be able to get any criminal charges dropped or reduced, which would be a huge benefit to your long-term record.
Try Not to Dwell On the Incident
After being in a car accident, you might find that you have regular flashbacks to the event. If you’re having trouble dealing with emotions related to the collision, you may want to get in touch with a therapist.
A counselor or psychologist can help you understand how to better deal with your feelings. This is extremely important if you’re reluctant to get back into the driver’s seat. Receiving help can assist you in the healing process.
Practice Safer Driving Habits In the Future
Was your car crash due to your own shortcomings? Aim to do better when you’re on the road. You may even want to take a refresher course online on basic rules. Many times, drivers who have been driving for a long time tend to forget the simplest regulations, such as how far away you should park from a fire hydrant.
When you get back to cruising around your hometown, pay careful attention to your driving. Are you staying within the speed limit? Are you completely stopping at stop signs? Are you acting proactively, not aggressively? Use your car crash as a chance for improvement, rather than an opportunity to beat yourself up.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to know how to act after being in a car accident. Still, if you find yourself in this unlucky but quite common circumstance, you’ll know exactly what steps to take.