More than seven million police-reported crashes occurred in the U.S. in 2016. Even if you’re a safe driver, the odds are high that you’ll be involved in a car crash at some point in your life. Even a minor fender bender is enough to ruin a person’s day, but mistakes after the accident can make it even worse. Prepare yourself with the knowledge of what to do – and what to avoid – after a motor vehicle crash.
Legal Requirements After a Crash
It’s important to keep a cool head after a crash. Everyone is upset, but you don’t want to do anything that will escalate the situation. It’s also important to follow Hawaii’s reporting laws.
- If your car is still moving, pull over. Do not leave the scene of the crash. If you do, you could be found guilty of a hit and run.
- Check yourself and everyone in your vehicle for injuries. Then check on the driver and any passengers in the other car. Making sure everyone is safe is the top priority.
- If no one is injured, the next priority is property damage. Try to assess the damage and the approximate value.
- If anyone is injured, or if the property damage exceeds $3,000, you need to call 911 immediately. You are required to submit a police report.
- If you’re not sure, go ahead and call the police. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and it can be hard to approximate property damage.
- If the police do not need to be called, you will still need to exchange your contact and registration information with the other driver.
Car Insurance After a Crash
Hawaii has a no-fault system of car insurance when it comes to injury. This means that after a crash, your insurance will pay for the medical costs of you and your passengers, regardless of who caused the crash, up to your personal injury protection (PIP) limit.
For property damage, however, the at-fault driver will be responsible. Additionally, lawsuits against the at-fault driver may occur if the injuries are more severe. This means that it’s still important to collect evidence as soon as possible.
Four Steps to Optimize Insurance Outcomes
- After a crash, avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as an admission of fault. Don’t apologize or admit to mistakes. Instead, focus on making sure everyone is safe, and let the police and insurance company figure out who’s at fault.
- Collect as much evidence as possible. This could come in the form of photographs, video or witness testimony. Make sure to get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident.
- If you were injured, you will need to fill out a PIP claim.
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