The moments following a car crash are stressful. Post-accident trauma distracts victims and their family members from focusing on essential actions for a North Carolina car accident claim. Medical attention is, of course, paramount. What about work? Fixing your own vehicle? Providing necessary documentation to insurance companies?
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reminds drivers to always carry proof of insurance, including contact information for their agent and insurer. Before you stress, here are answers to common questions after North Carolina accidents:
Q: What should I do first?
A: Stop at the closest safe location. You could be fined or jailed for leaving the accident scene. Help or get help for anyone who is injured. If you are not trained in first aid, do not move someone who is injured. Exchange information with other drivers and accident witnesses.
Q: What information should I collect?
A: Both drivers should exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, driver license numbers, vehicle identification and license plate numbers, contact information for insurance companies and policy numbers. Check the car's registration and get the owner's name and contact information if it's not the driver. Get names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses and passengers. If you have a camera, take photographs of damage and the accident scene. If you don't have a camera, make a sketch. Note the time, date and location of the accident.
Q: Should I call the police?
A: If someone is hurt, you must call the police and wait. It's okay to call 911 for both injury and non-injury accidents.
Q: Should I admit fault?
A: Never. Answer questions factually, but let your insurance company or police decide who is at fault. It's sometimes a reflexive response for someone to say they are sorry--don't allow yourself to say this. Learn what Raleigh car crash lawyer Brent Adams tells victims never to say after an accident.
Q: What if I hit a parked car?
A: Find the owner or leave a note on that vehicle’s windshield. The note should contain your name and address, a description of the accident and the name and address of your car's owner if it's not you. Then notify police.
Q: What should I do after an accident?
A: If an accident causes injury or death, both parties must report it to the DMV. If you don't, you could lose your license. This may vary by state. If a police officer determines you are at fault, points may be added to your driving record for three years. If you accumulate too many points, you could lose your license and your insurance company could increase your rates. Contact your insurance company. Many drivers don't report small accidents, especially if the damage barely exceeds the deductible. Downside? If someone develops an injury in the future, the insurer could refuse to pay if you didn't report the accident.
Q: How will the insurance companies determine fault?
A: They will use statements, photos, and the police report. They might decide both parties are partly at fault. If you are deemed at fault, you will pay the deductible for repairs to your car. Your insurer will pay or reimburse the other driver for his or her deductible. This may vary by state.