No matter how small, getting into an accident can bea nerve-wracking experience. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 6 million car accidents in the United States every year.
If you have been involved in an accident, whether it was a minor collision or a serious one, you may not be able to think clearly, so you should do your research ahead of time. The following guide will help you in case of a motor vehicle accident.
1. Check For Injuries
Look for visible injuries on you and your passengers. In the case of a severe crash or if anyone is injured, leave the vehicle where it is and call 911. Try to stay put until help arrives. In addition to police, there will be paramedics at the scene who can assess your injuries appropriately.
2. Carefully Get Out Of The Car
Accidents can send you in shock. The adrenaline can guise a broken bone or internal injury by distracting you from the pain. So when you step out of the vehicle, be careful.
Even if the accident was minor, move your vehicle to the side of the road, so it doesn’t interfere with traffic. Set up flares or reflectors and keep hazard lights on to warn other drivers to slow down. If the accident took place on the highway or a busy street, be extra careful when getting out of your car.
3. Check for Damage to the Vehicle
It’s best to assess the damage to the vehicle if you’re not hurt. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to have it towed to a repair facility. In case of a minor crash or dents, you can take your car to an auto body shop that offers expert collision repair services. A good repair shop would make sure to put everything in writing and tell you what the repairs are, and you will be billed once the repair is complete.
4. Call the Police
It is mandatory to notify the police if property damage exceeds a certain amount stipulated by state law (generally $1,000 or above). However, estimating the exact cost of damage at the scene is next to impossible, so it is always wise to file a police report.
A police officer will speak to all parties involved in the accident to prepare an accident report. Having a law enforcement officer present may also be extremely beneficial if it turns out that the other driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or not carrying auto insurance. It would be helpful if you could note the police report number and the officer’s name.
5. Collect Evidence
To start, get the names, phone numbers, license numbers, and car insurance details (company, policy number) of other drivers involved in your accident. You must also gather all information about the vehicle, including the year, the make, the model, the color, the license plate number, and the VIN.
You should also get the owner’s information if the driver is not the owner. If the other party does not report the accident, it is wise to get the insurance policy and company phone number. Taking a photo of the other driver’s license and insurance card will prevent transcription errors or loss of information.
6. What Information and Evidence Will You need?
Getting the insurance and contact information of the other parties in an accident is a common courtesy, but there’s a lot more information to get at the scene of an accident. You will need photos of the accident, a witness (if any) with their contact details, photos of your injuries and vehicle damage, and the date and location of the accident. You may also need to have detailed records of what you remember of the incident, including the events leading up to it and what happened afterward.
The memories of accidents fade quickly, but the recorded documentation can help you remember what happened clearly. In addition, if there are any witnesses at the scene, try and get their contact details. Ask if they are willing to share the details of what they saw. It is recommended that you hire a personal injur attorney so they can take care of everything. You can even go for a free consultation before proceeding with them. You can learn more here.
7. Get Medical Treatment
The immediate health and safety of you and your family should be your first priority after an accident. Make sure you are checked out by paramedics and that any injuries are documented and treated as soon as they arrive at the scene.
It’s still important to see a doctor regardless of how you feel, whether you are at the scene of the accident or in the hospital afterward. Many injuries, such as internal injuries or whiplash, do not appear right away. Medical documentation will also support the connection between your accident and the injuries you sustained, which can help legal matters.
8. Things to Avoid After a Motor Accident
While knowing what to do after a car accident is important, it’s also crucial to know what not to do. Following are some of the biggest mistakes you should avoid if you’ve been in a car accident:
- Don’t run from the scene. Running away from the scene of an accident is considered a criminal offense and might result in prosecution.
- Avoid admitting guilt. In discussing the incident with the other party, be careful not to make any statements that might be interpreted as a confession of guilt.
- Don’t blame anyone. Avoid pointing the finger at others or blaming them for the collision. It is up to the police and respective insurance companies to deal with the issue.
- Prepare yourself before speaking with an adjuster. Following an accident, you may be contacted by an insurance adjuster, whether you own or the other driver’s. When you speak with the adjuster, you should think about how that might affect a potential claim that may arise due to the accident.
Being involved in a car accident can be unsettling, so you should know in advance what steps you ought to take if this ever happens. Start by keeping a cool head and dealing with accidents logically. Immediately check for injuries and then move your car off the road and away from traffic. Gather evidence and call for help immediately.