I know the end-of-the-year countdowns are behind us, but I wanted to provide our top 5 things you should consider doing immediately if you are ever involved in a car crash.
1. Make Sure Everyone Is Alright And Safe
The most important thing to do immediately after a crash is to make sure you and others are not severely injured and everyone is in a safe spot. If someone is severely injured, make sure they are not moved unless in immediate safety danger, and call 911 immediately (see #2 too).
After the assessment for severe injuries, make sure everyone is in a safe spot. Oftentimes following a crash, there can be serious safety concerns that must be considered related to traffic. Other drivers may not realize there is trouble ahead or nearby. Therefore, make sure you and all others are in a safe place. Again, the exception to this rule is if someone can’t move or should not be moved until help arrives. Do your best to make sure all other drivers realize there is trouble nearby or in their path of travel.
2. Call The Police
A lot of times, people are not sure whether or not the police should be called. In some crashes, the other party insists that the police should not be called, which is a pretty good indicator that you will want to call the police as they may be trying to hide something they did wrong. While not all crashes require a report, anything over $1,000 in damage or involving injury or death require police involvement. These days, it does not take much to have $1,000 in damage. That’s why it’s best to just call the police. You will not get in trouble for calling police if the damage is under $1,000, and it is better to have the report.
3. Get All Witness Names And Information And Take Pictures Of The Scene
Most of the time, once there is a crash there are good samaritans who run to the scene to make sure everyone is alright. These people likely have very valuable insight and information as to what happened to cause the crash. Getting their names and information can be very important, as it is the only chance you likely have to capture this information. While the police sometimes do get this information, by the time they get to the scene most of the witnesses are already gone.
This is such an important step, we have previously written a blog article asking witnesses to leave their information. However, a lot of times people don’t want the hassle of getting involved. That’s why it is best to do all you can to try to get witnesses’ names, phone numbers, email, and/or address so they can be tracked down in the future if needed. On top of that, if they are willing to write you a statement of what they saw on the scene, all the better. If the crash is a “he said/she said” situation down the road, witnesses are going to be a very important “non-interested” party who can help to show the truth of what happened.
Pictures of the scene as it existed at the time of the crash are helpful as well, should the case ever end up being contested. It helps refresh the recollection of the witnesses, as well as helps to show the story of what happened. If you are able, take pictures of the scene and the positioning of the cars following the crash.
4. If Injured, Take The Ambulance
If you feel you are injured, it is wise to take the ambulance. A lot of times your adrenaline will be pumping, so you may not realize to what extent you are truly hurt. In my experience, it is far more safe to have the medical professionals, who are trained in how to take precautions related to possible injuries, assist by taking the ambulance.
A lot of people hesitate because they are unsure how they will pay for the ambulance bill. In North Dakota, if you have car insurance that covers the car you are driving, you have what is called “no-fault” or PIP coverage. It is this coverage that will cover the ambulance bill, even if the other driver is not found to be at fault. For more on no-fault (PIP) insurance, review this prior blog article. Therefore, so long as you have insurance that covers the car you are driving, the bill will be covered through the no-fault (PIP) coverage.
5. Report The Crash To Your Insurance Company
Only after you have taken all of the steps above should you then call your insurance company to report the claim. There are many ways to do this. First, you could call the agent who you purchased the insurance through and they can walk you through the steps of making the claim (and in some instances will get the claim started for you). Or you can review your policy of insurance or insurance card (the one you keep in your vehicle) and it will have a phone number for you to call. This is an important step so that your insurance company knows of the crash and can take the necessary steps to get the no-fault (PIP) coverage going if you were injured and require treatment. Your insurance company can start the process for the property damage claim, which may also include a rental car if needed.
While we hope you never have to use these tips, the top 5 things above should be helpful if you are forced into a situation where you were involved in a car crash in North Dakota. Should you determine you would like legal assistance to help you following a crash where you were injured, please give our Personal Injury Team at SW&L Attorneys a call at 701-297-2890 or send us an email below.
The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to your particular set of facts.