The first thing to do after a car accident is to see if you and your passengers suffered injuries. Then, if you are physically able, check on the welfare of the driver and passengers in the other car involved in the accident. Offer assistance, if needed. If anyone is unresponsive, dial 9-1-1 to request an ambulance and a police officer to respond to the accident.
If the crash has backed up traffic, move your vehicle to the side of the road, if it is safe to do so. Tell the other driver what you are doing so that the driver does not think you are leaving the accident scene. Stay with your vehicle until the police arrive.
Communication With the Other Driver
Limit your conversation with the other driver. Emotions run high after accidents; it is easy to get upset and say something that you may later regret. Do not admit fault — even if you believe you caused the crash.
Instead, exchange the following information with the other driver:
- Name of auto insurance company, policy number, and telephone number
- Make, model, and year of the other driver’s vehicle
- License plate number
Because of problems with identity theft or the possibility of getting harassed by the other driver, some people prefer not to give out their home address. The police, however, may ask you for your home address and other personal information.
While You Wait for the Police to Arrive
Something else you should do after a car accident is use this time to gather information that may be used if you later file a claim. You may want to do the following:
- Use your phone (or camera, if you have one) to take photos of the damage done to your car and the other car involved. Also, take a photo of the area where the accident took place.
- Use your phone to record what happened after the accident. If you cannot make a recording on your phone, write down what took place since it is still fresh in your memory. This may help you at a later time should you or the other driver file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
- Look for eyewitnesses. Get the contact information of people who saw the accident and are willing to talk with police about the crash.
- Call your auto insurance company to report the accident. If you cannot report the crash at the scene, call your insurer within 24 hours of the accident.
If the Other Driver Asks You Not to Call the Police
Even if you have not sustained substantial damage to your car or physical injuries, you may want a police report. Sometimes it is not easy to determine the exact extent of the damages to your vehicle or to gauge your injuries appropriately. The police report establishes proof of the accident.
Your insurance company and the other driver’s insurer may also want a copy of the police report for insurance claim purposes.
Additionally, Tennessee requires drivers to file an accident report with the Department of Safety within 20 days when an accident involves physical injuries, death, and over $400 in property damage.
If the Other Driver Offers You Cash to Pay for Your Car Repairs
There are instances where drivers who cause an accident offer cash to the other driver. In exchange for the cash, the accident victim agrees not to call police or report the accident to his or her insurance company.
If you accept cash, there is no guarantee that the money is enough to pay for your car repair or medical bills to treat injuries that may later develop.
Filing an Insurance Claim If You Were Injured in a Car Accident
If you were injured, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In Tennessee, the party that causes an accident pays for damages resulting from the accident. The at-fault party’s insurer usually pays for the damages.
If the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Denies Your Claim
If the insurer denied your claim, you may want to speak with a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can review your claim to determine why it was denied. A lawyer can also investigate your accident and help you collect evidence to build a solid case for your claim.
We Can Help You File a Claim After a Car Accident
The Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC help car accident victims with all aspects of a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. If you were injured in an accident caused by another driver, call us today at 865-546-1111 to schedule a free consultation with one of our car accident lawyers.