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What to Do in a No-Injury Crash

What To Do If You’re in an Accident

Car crashes are frightening: the noise, the impact, the uncertainty.  Fortunately, most car wrecks result in no injuries. These are usually low impact collisions, and they happen with astounding regularity.  According to research done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2016, there were over 4.5 million non-injury automobile accidents in the U.S., which calculates to more than 500 incidents every hour. 

It is often not necessary to hire an attorney to represent you for an accident in which you were not injured, but you probably still have a lot of questions about what to do.  It is our hope that some of the information below on what to do in a no-injury crash may help.

First: Make Sure You Are OK

After impact, take a deep breath and notice anything amiss physically:

  • Did any part of your body hit anything within the interior of the vehicle?
  • Did the seatbelt work properly?
  • Are you experiencing any areas of pain?

Of course, if you have any passengers, after putting on your own oxygen mask, so to speak, check on their well being.

Move the Vehicle to a Safe Place to Assess

Once you have ascertained that everyone in your vehicle is fine, pull the car to a safe area.  This could be the shoulder if nothing else is available, or a side street, or (preferably) a parking lot.  An area with little to no traffic is best since you will want to exit the vehicle to assess the damage and take photographs.   Nearly everyone has a decent camera on their phone these days, which is very useful for post-accident documentation.  Once the other driver has pulled over near your vehicle, here are the next steps:

Take pictures of the other driver's license and insurance card.  This is assuming that the other driver is reasonable and non-threatening.  If the other driver flees the scene or is aggressive, call 911.

Take thorough photographs of both vehicles.  Get close-ups as well as pictures further away that show the damage.  Take a photo of the other vehicle's license plate.

If it is safe to do so, take photographs of the scene of the accident.  Even if you are on a side street and the photos are from a distance, it will help to illustrate how the accident occurred.  Take pictures of the street signs so that the location is easy to remember later when an insurance adjuster is asking questions.

Police Report?

Although the best case scenario is getting a report of the incident by an investigating officer, in busy California cities such as Sacramento, CHP officers are often too busy to come to the scene of a non-injury incident.  That is why it is essential to document as much of the location and damage information yourself.  Take note of any statements the other driver may make, such as "sorry I did not see you", "I just got off work and was tired", or "the sun was in my eyes".  The time immediately post-accident is a high-stress time, and the documentation really comes in handy when you later are trying to remember details.

Call your Insurance Company

After you get home safely, place a call to your own insurance company to open a claim file.  They will assign you a claim number and an adjuster who will handle your claim.

Get A Repair Estimate

Within a day or two of the accident, take your vehicle to the automobile repair shop of your choice to get an estimate of repair for your car.  It is a good idea to have an independent estimate as well as any that your insurance or the other person's insurance suggests.  The assessment should detail all the damage and itemize the parts and labor required to repair the vehicle.  Usually, this will be deemed a Preliminary Estimate, and once mechanics get into the work, there may be further costs associated with the repair.  Most of the time, the auto body repair shop will coordinate with your insurance company to get your car fixed.  This is usually the easiest way to go, assuming you have collision coverage on your auto policy.  If the collision was not your fault, your insurance would seek reimbursement from the insurance company that covers the at-fault party.  If you do not have collision coverage, it may be a long wait to get your car repaired, as you will have to file the claim with the other party's insurance. That insurance company will usually take some time to do a liability investigation.

Settle The Property Damage Claim

Once your vehicle is repaired, you will be asked to sign a release for the property damage claim.  Look over the release carefully before signing to ensure the release relates to property damage only and does not release any claim of bodily injury.  It is not uncommon for soreness from the accident trauma to develop over a week or so, and if you sign off on an injury claim, any ability for you to recover medical bills and pain and suffering damages will be lost.

This video below shows some of the duties involved in repairing damaged vehicles.

Summary

The above tips apply only to automobile accidents that did not result in injury and for which you incurred no medical bills or lost wages related to injuries.  Be aware of any aches and pains that may be related to the impact and trauma over the days following the accident, as it is common for inflammation to take some time to set in.  If you do feel injured, seek medical treatment promptly and hold off on any discussion of bodily injury settlement until seeking legal advice.  Most of the time, the insurance companies will urge you to settle quickly for very little money.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer.  If you were unfortunately injured due to a car crash caused by a negligent party, reach out to my office for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our case history of verdicts and settlements and our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and AVVO.

Image: DepositPhotos.com

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