Social distancing requires that we change our normal habits. Everything we take for granted, such as working, shopping, even going for a walk in the park has changed. Fewer people are on the road, and those who remain seem to be more reckless than ever.
If you find yourself in a car accident during the COVID-19 pandemic, how can you trade and verify information without putting yourself at risk of infection? Allow us to explain how practicing social distancing after a car crash makes trading insurance easier than ever.
After the Crash
The standards of a car accident still apply, even during social distancing. Once your car comes to a complete stop, the first thing you should do is check yourself and your passengers for injuries.
If the car accident was severe or if you were rear-ended, slowly rotate your neck and joints. If you experience any pain, call for help. Car accidents often cause blunt force trauma, which may not be obvious without imaging tests. As always, if you see blood, call 911.
If the other driver seems injured or if their car is seriously damaged, don’t risk getting too close. Instead, call for emergency services. Responders will have proper PPE (personal protective equipment) that will mitigate the risk of infection. While it’s tempting to help the other driver if they are injured, the risk of infection could send you both to the hospital. Use your best judgment but intervene if they are in immediate danger.
Meet the Other Driver
Make sure you put your mask on before getting out of the vehicle. Most places require that anyone going outside wear a mask. Even with a mask, the best way to avoid infection is to keep a safe distance. Maintain at least a full car length as you speak to the other driver.
Don’t discuss the accident. The more you talk about what happened, the more likely the other driver is to use your words against you. Instead, focus on trading information. Normally, you’d exchange insurance cards. In these times, that dramatically increases your chances of infection.
Don’t physically exchange your information. Instead, retain a safe distance and ask for the other driver’s phone number. When you receive a text from the other driver, you can be confident that the other driver’s phone number is accurate, making it easy for your insurance to contact them if something goes wrong.
Take pictures of your cards and send them to each other. This ensures that neither of you makes a mistake in reciting your information.
Finally, take pictures on all four sides of your vehicle and instruct the other driver to do the same. Taking pictures on every side gives your insurance company and your attorney the best opportunity to review the forensics and determine who caused the accident. Make sure the other driver’s photos capture the entire side of the car, not just the damages.
Once all the texts are sent, you should have four pictures of each car, a picture of their driver's license, and a picture of their car insurance card. They should have the same for you.
File a Report
You should also consider calling your local police department and reporting a crash. Officers will arrive at the scene and may ask to hold your cards, rather than receive them digitally. To mitigate the risk of infection, you might request they wear different sets of gloves while copying your information.
Contact an Attorney
While social distancing presents many challenges to our societal norms, it arguably makes trading insurance information more accessible than ever. There’s less risk of arguing and escalation. Plus, once you have their information, you can verify it with a text message. It’s hard to believe it took us this long to realize it, but exchanging information through social distancing may be the best way to exchange insurance information both now and in the future.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car accident, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced Modesto car accident lawyer from Law Offices of Dean Petrulakis to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (209) 528-0404.