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What To Do After A RI Car Accident, Step by Step 

Car accident victims often feel dazed and confused at the scene. After all, if you’ve sustained a car accident injury or your car is seriously damaged, it’s hard not to feel a little off-kilter. As experienced car accident lawyers in Providence RI, Petrarca Law has the knowledge to serve you and get you a fair settlement.

The first moments after an accident are crucial for building an insurance claim or personal injury case later on. The information you gather on the scene could make all the difference between a settlement or walking away with nothing. That’s why it pays to be prepared and know what to do after an accident, step by step. 

Below, learn what to do after a minor car accident — and what to expect from insurance companies afterward. 

What to do after an auto accident:

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III,) immediately following an accident, you should: 

   1. Assess injuries

First, determine if you or anyone else in the car is hurt. If so, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Don’t attempt to give first aid unless you’re qualified, as you might make an injury worse instead of better. 

Note: High levels of adrenaline immediately after car accidents could mask your pain — and you may not feel the full effects of an injury until later. 

If the first responders want to take you to a hospital, let them. Refusing treatment at the scene could harm your insurance claim or personal injury case later on. 

   2. Pull over

If you’re still in the flow of traffic, pull your car safely to the side of the road and put your hazard lights on. Make sure you stay close by, to avoid any accusations of fleeing the scene. 

If you haven’t already, you can also call 911 for the police now. 

   3. Assess the car’s damage

After pulling over, you can get out of your vehicle and look for damage to the automobile. Be careful not to step into traffic if your door is facing the road. 

If possible, use your phone to take pictures of the damage to your car. Try to document as much as you can from as many angles as possible. This could come in handy for the insurance claims process later. If you need to take your car to an auto repair shop in Providence RI, Providence Auto Body is the most well-respected repair shop in Rhode Island.

   4. Exchange information

At this point, the other driver (or drivers, in a multi-car crash) should have pulled over as well. You should use this time to exchange information with them, including: 

  • Driver’s License 
  • Car registration
  • Insurance ID card

Important: Avoid making any statements that might admit fault. Even if you think you’re to blame, it may not be clear what happened in the immediate aftermath of an accident. 

If the other driver fled the scene in a hit-and-run, try asking any bystanders nearby for information they noticed about the other driver — such as the make and model of their vehicle, or their license plate number. If you’re lucky, a nearby dashcam or security camera may have captured the accident. 

   5. File an Accident report

According to Rhode Island car accident laws, drivers involved in a car accident should call the police and report the accident if: 

  • It results in the injury or death of another person
  • It damages a vehicle so that it can no longer operate normally or safely. 

Depending on the severity of the RI car accident, the police may or may not arrive on the scene. If they do, the responding police officer will likely give you an accident report number. 

If the police don’t come to the scene, you can go to the nearest police station and file a report yourself. 

In most cases, you can get a copy of your crash report online three days after the report was taken from www.BuyCrash.com. You can also get a copy of your accident report by mail from the Rhode Island State Police

   6. File an insurance claim

Next, you’ll need to contact either your or the other driver’s insurance company and file a claim. 

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to file an insurance claim at the accident scene. While tensions are high, you may not understand the severity of the accident or your injuries — and the insurance company may attempt to use statements you make at the time to dismiss your claim later. 

So, you may want to wait until you’ve consulted with a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer before calling them.

Graph showing states with the most auto accidents 

How does an insurance company evaluate fault and damage after a RI car accident? 

How the insurance company handles a claim can depend on whether you live in a “fault” or “no-fault” state.  

Rhode Island is considered a fault state, meaning that drivers who are responsible for car accidents are liable for any injuries or property damage that another party suffers. Car accident victims in no-fault states can typically receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or a lawsuit. 

An insurance adjuster will initially decide who was at fault in an accident. Though if you or the other driver files a personal injury claim, a judge or jury may ultimately decide.   

When deciding fault, claims adjusters typically look at: 

  • Police reports or traffic tickets issued after the accident
  • Witness statements
  • Photographs or videos 
  • The location of vehicle damage

Again: This is why it’s crucial to thoroughly document the immediate aftermath of the accident scene — so you have every possible advantage, in the event that an insurance company attempts to spin the narrative. 

What happens after a car accident that isn’t your fault? 

When you’re found not at fault in an accident, you can typically file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Liability insurance can cover key expenses after an accident, such as: 

If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, you might be able to file a claim with your own insurance company, provided that you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM.)

Your UIM coverage could also protect you in the event of a hit-and-run. 

What happens after a car accident that is your fault? 

Simply put, the other driver can file a claim with your liability insurance if you’re found responsible for the crash. 

With an accident on your record, be prepared for your insurance premiums to rise. On average, you should expect to see a 45% increase if the accident resulted in property damage or a 47% increase if it caused injuries, according to an analysis from Forbes Advisor

If you don’t have insurance or your policy doesn’t cover the full extent of the damages, you could potentially be held liable in a lawsuit. If you think you may have been at fault in an accident, you should talk to a car accident lawyer in Rhode Island immediately to begin building your defense. 

A RI car accident lawyer you can trust 

If you need help navigating the insurance process after a car accident, Petrarca Law is here for you. 

We can help you through this stressful time by negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf or standing up for your rights in the courtroom. If you need a reassuring presence in your corner, contact our office today for a free consultation. We are the Providence personal injury lawyers that are here to win and get you just compensation.