Car accidents happen, pandemic or not, and the coronavirus outbreak makes dealing with injuries from a car crash more difficult, complicated, and stressful. Here, we offer tips on dealing with an auto accident during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What To Do After any Car Crash — The Basics
Despite the fear of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 that it causes, there are general guidelines you should try to follow any time you are involved in a car crash.
- Check for injuries. Check yourself, then ask your passengers and people in the other our car if they are hurt.
- Call 9-1-1. If there are any serious injuries, call 9-1-1 to request immediate medical attention.
- Call the police. If there is no emergency, call the local police to make a report.
- Exchange information. Exchange contact information and insurance information with the other driver(s). Use a cell phone to take a picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card, and ask them to send you a text so you have their telephone number.
- Request passenger information. Ask for contact information for other people who were involved in the accident as passengers of the other vehicle(s).
- Ask for police information. Get the names and badge numbers of the police officers, and sign anything they ask you to. By signing, you are not admitting guilt; you are simply acknowledging the statements.
- Identify witnesses. If anyone witnessed the accident ask for their name and contact information. They are not required to give it to you, but many people will be willing to help by telling what they saw.
- Take pictures. Take pictures of the scene of the crash, including damage to the cars, the surrounding area, any road signs, road and traffic conditions, and traffic signs.
- Seek medical attention. See a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think you were hurt, you should get checked out. It can take a few days for symptoms to appear.
- Get the police report. Get a copy of the police report. You will probably need to go to the police department a few days after the accident.
- Vehicle Crash Law. Study this page and get up to date information and advice.
During the coronavirus, you still should exchange information with the other driver, but do your best to maintain six feet from other people. Try to avoid exchanging documents by hand. Exchange cell phone numbers and ask the other driver to take a photograph of their license and insurance information and text it to you. Verify that you received the text before you leave the scene.
If you have a mask with you, wear it. It’s a free country, and you are free to wear that mask.
If the other driver makes you feel unsafe, remain in your vehicle and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
When the police arrive on the scene, they will take control and can help ensure the exchange of information while maintaining social distancing between everyone involved.
Is It Safe to See a Doctor?
If you were hurt in a car crash, it is important that you see a doctor as quickly as possible. Consider going to the emergency room.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, doctor’s offices are considered to be safe places to go. It’s perfectly understandable to be apprehensive about getting medical care right now, but medical facilities have taken steps to protect patients from the coronavirus and COVID-19. Medical providers encourage or require everyone to wear a mask. They screen and test patients before or at arrival, often with a ‘no-touch’ thermometer. Hospitals and doctor’s offices use enhanced cleaning procedures. Staff and patients are required to follow rigorous hand washing procedures. And doctor’s offices and hospitals manage their schedules to minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
What About Alternatives to In-Person Care?
If your injuries were minor, it may be best to make a virtual appointment with your primary care provider instead of going to the emergency room. Your doctor may be able to address your needs via a telemedicine appointment or video call instead of an in-person appointment. Your doctor can determine what type of care you need and direct you to the best kind of provider to manage your care during the pandemic. If your injuries are serious and you are hurting, then mask up and get to a doctor.
Should I File a Claim with an Auto Insurance Company?
Most auto insurance claims are now handled over the phone, so it is still safe to file the claim. The insurance adjuster will ask for information about how the accident happened, injuries you suffered, and any damage to your vehicle.
It is best to talk with the insurance adjuster after you have hired a lawyer. When you do talk with the insurance adjuster, do not discuss your injuries, and be careful not to discuss who caused the accident.
The adjuster may need to have your vehicle inspected to assess the cost of repairs. If they are able to have an adjuster meet you at your home, follow social distancing guidelines, and wear a mask. But they might ask you to take your car to a repair shop to have it evaluated. If this is the case, call ahead and ask the repair shop about the protocols it follows to minimize the risk and to keep yourself safe.
Can I Get My Car Fixed During the Pandemic?
If the damage to your vehicle was minor and cosmetic, you may wish to consider waiting until the pandemic subsides before trying to get your car repaired. Work with the insurance company to ensure that the claim will remain open and that repairs will be covered, even if you wait. You can also contact a service technician directly and ask about the protocols they have in place to minimize the spread of the disease.
If the damage to your vehicle was severe and you need to take your car in for repairs, follow the CDC guidelines. Some repair centers will send a technician to pick up your vehicle and bring it to the shop. Others offer night-drop-off to minimize face-to-face interaction. If you must take your car to the shop in person, wear a mask and choose a facility that requires that their employees wear masks. Ensure that keys and paperwork are placed on the counter and not exchanged hand-to-hand. Ask the repair shop how they will sanitize your car after service.
King County courts are operating on a limited schedule. Most hearings have been postponed. When they are held in person, masks and social distancing are required and hand sanitizer is available in every courtroom. Many civil cases are now conducted by video or telephone conference.
People who are sick or experiencing flu-like symptoms including a cough, fever, or other respiratory problems should not come to court.
For other courts in Washington, the Washington Supreme Court has issued a list of Administrative Orders Regarding Court Closures and Emergency Modifications for courts throughout the state.
The Sharpe Law Firm remains committed to our clients and their families throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We continue to monitor the situation and have prioritized the health and well-being of our staff, clients, and their families while ensuring that we meet their needs. Through the use of Zoom video-conferencing software, we are able to remain fully functioning and communicate with our clients, the courts, and opposing counsel.
The cleanliness of our office is a top priority. The office and waiting area are cleaned daily. All staff members who do not feel well are required to stay home.
If you have questions about your car accident claim during the coronavirus pandemic, contact us today. We are safe and we are here for you.
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