After the first few moments of a car crash, it can be difficult to think straight or know what to do first. Accidents can be traumatic regardless of whether they are minor or major, and you may feel a wide range of emotions you may not be accustomed to—like panic and anxiety—that can cloud your thinking and make it difficult to focus and process thoughts as you normally would.
In order to help prepare yourself, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time what steps to take after being in a wreck should you ever find yourself in a collision. Knowing what to do ahead of time can also make it easier to help others should you find yourself in a situation where someone you care about is in an accident.
Where you live and where the accident occurs may also slightly change what you do regarding insurance matters after the wreck. For residents of Ocean Springs, MS, here’s what you should do after an Ocean Springs car accident:
- Prioritize Your Safety
Your safety and the safety of others should always be your priority after any type of collision, even a minor one. If you or anyone else is injured, call 911 immediately. If you were not injured and you’re able to drive your vehicle, move it to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If you’re able to get out of your car safely, you may want to put out flares or safety triangles to alert other drivers. Be sure to be extra careful when exiting your vehicle, especially when on a busy street or highway.
- Contact the Police
If you haven’t already done so, call 911 and report the accident at this time. Even if no one is injured, it may be necessary to file a police report if any vehicle sustained substantial damage. If you’re unsure of the severity of anyone’s injuries, make sure that an ambulance is on their way regardless. Adrenaline can mask symptoms of pain and injuries, which is why it’s imperative that everyone involved get assessed by medical personnel.
- Stay at the Scene of the Accident
Do not leave the scene of the accident until after the police arrive. It may be tempting to leave if you feel the accident is minor enough to not need to file a report, but leaving the scene of an accident early could get you into trouble. It’s always better to wait and see if filing a police report is needed.
If law enforcement arrives, be sure to get a copy of the police report if one is made. In some instances, they may make the decision to not send out an officer and file an online report instead. If this happens, you will have to request a copy of the report from your local law enforcement office or from your insurance agent.
- Obtain Information
You will then want to exchange contact information with the police officer if one arrives at the scene, as well as the other driver. Your auto insurance information should also be exchanged with the other driver at this time. If the other driver does not have insurance, it’s vital to get their contact information from them. You’ll want to get the following:
- The other driver’s name, address, and phone number
- Their insurance information, including a policy number
- Driver’s license number
- The year, make, and model of their vehicle
- The license plate number of their vehicle
It’s also a good idea to take photographs of both vehicles and the area where the accident occurred before anything is moved, especially any identifying features that contributed to the crash, such as debris on the road or skid marks.
If there are any witnesses nearby who saw the accident happen and stayed at the scene, it may be a good idea to reach out to them and ask if they’re willing to share their contact information with you. Their testimony may be useful if you end up filing a legal claim.
When speaking to the other driver or to any police officer, be sure to not admit to any fault, apologize, or try to place blame on anyone. If you end up deciding to take legal action, doing any of these things may harm your case later.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
Any time you’re involved in an auto accident, you need to contact your insurance company regardless of how minor or major the accident is. They will begin processing a claim when you speak with them and will know how to best proceed. The sooner you contact your insurer, the better. If you wait too long to contact them, you may jeopardize the compensation you’re able to receive. Some insurance companies have deadlines for opening accident claims.
Tell your insurance company the details of the accident. They may send out an adjuster to assess the damage to your vehicle. How much you’re able to get back from your insurance will depend on many factors, including your current auto policy, the policy of the other driver, how serious the accident was, and who is found to be at fault for the accident. Other factors like location and policy limitations can also influence an insurance claim.
- Contact an Attorney
There are many reasons why you may want to reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer in Ocean Springs after you have contacted your insurance company and started the process of initiating your insurance claim. Some of the most common reasons why you may wish to receive the help of an attorney include:
- If you feel that your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer is claiming untrue facts about the accident or is offering you an unfair compensation amount
- If you’re being wrongfully blamed for the accident
- If you feel there are facts about the accident that aren’t being told
- If the other driver committed a hit-and-run accident
- If you’re unsure if you’re getting a fair compensation amount from your insurance company
Insurance companies, even when they are well-meaning, do make mistakes. There are also instances when insurers have been known to pay out less on a policy than their client deserved. This can happen when they put the company’s interests before those of their client.
Providing Peace of Mind
If you have been involved in a car accident in Mississippi and have reason to believe your insurance company may be treating your case unfairly, or if you have any concerns about the compensation you may be eligible to receive, we encourage you to get in touch with Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law today. Our law firm can help you answer any questions you may have. We serve clients in Ocean Springs and throughout Mississippi. Your initial consultation with us is at no charge to you.