What if I Get into a Car Accident During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

woman-wearing-mask-in-carEven with fewer cars on the road due to shelter-in-place orders, accidents can still happen. A collision during typical times can be challenging enough, but the current coronavirus outbreak adds even more stress and complexity.

It is a good idea to think through the additional precautions you should take, in case an accident occurs. Here are some tips for handling a car crash safely with COVID-19 concerns in mind.

Start With the Basics

Review these seven essential steps for properly dealing with any motor vehicle accident:

1. Do not leave the accident scene until the situation is resolved.

2. Call for help for anyone who was injured and prevent further accidents by moving vehicles off the roadway, using hazard lights or putting out flares.

3. Collect any important accident-related information from the other driver, including name, phone number, driver’s license number and license plate information.

4. Document the accident scene thoroughly with detailed notes and photos of damage to both vehicles, road conditions, and other relevant factors.

5. Contact your insurance provider.

6. Limit the information you provide to an insurer – stick to the basic facts!

7. Consider seeking legal representation.

For additional details, see our article: “What to Do after an Auto Accident in California.”

Maintain Social Distancing

Under normal circumstances, you would approach the other driver to exchange required information. During these times, maintain all social distancing recommendations to the best extent possible. You can fulfill your legal obligations without hand-to-hand exchange of documents.

Keep a consistent distance of six feet from other people.

If you have them, wear a protective mask and gloves when interacting with other involved parties.

Instead of exchanging pieces of paper, exchange mobile phone numbers verbally with the other driver, witnesses, and other involved parties. Send a text before leaving the premises to verify their phone numbers are correct. Text all required information and/or photos of documents to the other driver.

Alternatively, ask the other party to set their documents on a safe, flat surface, so you can take photos and/or write the information down with your own pen and paper.

If using photos of documents, verify that all information is clear and visible in the picture before proceeding.

If the behavior of the other driver makes you feel unsafe, remain in your vehicle. Call for law enforcement and wait for them to arrive and assist.

Seek Necessary Medical Attention

If you are injured in an accident, seek appropriate medical care promptly. If your injuries do not require immediate emergency treatment, consider the non-critical care options available to you.

Your best first step may be to contact your primary care provider or advice nurse for their recommendations about your situation. They may be able to address your initial needs with a telemedicine appointment or video call instead of an in-person visit.

Do not delay seeking a medical evaluation. If you are hurt in a car accident, it is important to contact your doctor soon after to initiate the course of your care and document injuries caused by the collision. Your doctor can help you determine what treatment is appropriate for your injuries, given the local healthcare system constraints at this time.

Insurance companies tend to argue that injuries are not serious and/or not related to the accident if the victim fails to seek treatment right away.

Prepare for Delays

COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives. You can expect the process of dealing with your accident will take longer – from medical treatment to communicating with insurance companies.

Typical insurance claim processing timelines are slower at this time. Personal injury lawsuits are experiencing court system delays and continuances. Non-emergency medical procedures, such as physical therapy, surgery, and referrals to specialists are lower priorities in an overwhelmed healthcare system.

Some insurance companies are leveraging these delays to pressure claimants into settling early for a lower offer that may not sufficiently cover damages. An experienced attorney can help you understand whether an offer is fair or undervalued.

If you, or someone you know, are injured in an accident during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be especially important to seek adept legal representation to pursue the recovery you deserve.

Contact the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 777-7777 for a no cost, no-obligation evaluation.