In the United States, there are approximately 5 million car accidents yearly, and nearly 43% of these accidents result in injuries. Car accidents are most often caused by speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence.
However, you can do everything right and still be involved in an accident. The best thing you can do is prepare for the unexpected by learning what to do immediately after a car accident.
You’ll need to keep reading this guide to learn six critical steps to take after a car crash so you can stay calm and cool no matter what.
1. Check for Injuries and Move Your Vehicle
The first thing you need to do is stay calm and check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If another vehicle is involved in the crash, you should ensure everybody is safe.
Call for immediate medical assistance if there are any obvious injuries or urgent symptoms like difficulty breathing or chest pain.
Once you’ve determined there are no life-threatening injuries, you’ll need to move yourself and your vehicle out of the way of traffic. Turn your hazard lights on and set up flares if you have them. On the other hand, if the crash is severe and there are injuries, you’ll need to leave the cars where they are.
2. Contact the Police
You must report the accident to the police, but the process for this depends on where you live. For example, some states require online reporting for minor accidents. However, other states require you to file a report in person at a police station within 24 hours.
If the police do arrive, be sure to get the officer’s badge number and name. You’ll also need to get a copy of the accident report from the police officer.
In addition, if you have to file a report later, you can request a copy from your local police department.
Keep in mind that a police report is essential for insurance purposes, and it serves as a record if there are any disputes about who is at fault in the future.
3. Exchange Information
Don’t get so caught up with the accident that you don’t get the necessary information. Be sure to obtain important details from the other driver, such as:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information
- License plate number
You should also gather as much information about the other vehicle as possible. This information includes the make, model, year, color, and, if possible, vehicle identification number.
4. Document the Accident Scene
Your first step in accident scene documentation is assessing the damage to both cars involved. Check for impact on both cars’ front, side, and rear, and take pictures to document the damages.
Next, take a video or picture of the entire accident scene. This includes property damage and road markings like skid marks. Make a note of the street names and the direction both vehicles were heading before the accident occurred.
Don’t forget to note the position of both cars in relation to the streets. Having this information handy makes it easier for an insurance adjuster to re-create the accident. It also makes it easier for an attorney to investigate if you file a claim.
Finally, record the exact date and time of the accident in all pictures and videos you take.
5. See a Doctor
Even if you feel perfectly well after the accident, you must see a doctor. This is because some injuries like whiplash are not always apparent immediately. Whiplash occurs when your head moves forward and backward suddenly with a lot of force, much like a whip.
One of the most common causes of whiplash is car accidents, specifically rear-end collisions. Whiplash symptoms don’t typically appear until 24 hours after the incident and include neck pain, stiffness, and headaches.
You can also have other injuries like muscle strains or sprains. All of these injuries can cause chronic pain and require medical treatment, so it’s essential to get medical documentation of these injuries and symptoms.
Remember, you’ll need this documentation later for your insurance claim and any other claims you might file. Also, if you don’t see a doctor immediately, it could hurt your insurance claim later. This is because you’ll have difficulty proving any future injuries were a result of the accident.
6. Contact an Attorney
Any accident injury can have long-term complications. In addition, accidents are not always straightforward, and you might be blamed for an accident you didn’t cause. While you must file an insurance claim immediately, you should also contact an automobile crash lawyer.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, you could also be entitled to receive accident benefits in a car accident settlement. For example, if you’ve had an injury, you’ll typically need to spend money on doctor visits, therapy, and medication.
If your injuries are severe, you’ll experience lost wages, chronic pain, and long-term changes to your life. You may not even be able to return to work at the same job. Finally, pain, suffering, and PTSD can occur after an accident, making it difficult for you to drive and function independently.
You may also be eligible to receive income replacement benefits if you’ve missed a lot of time from work.
You’ll need to do your research to find the best attorney in your area. Be sure to find an attorney with extensive experience dealing with car accidents. In most cases, you’ll be able to schedule a free consultation. During this consultation, the attorney will review your case and advise you on what steps to take next.
You also won’t have to pay any fees until you get an accident claim settlement.
Learning the Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Knowing the steps to take after a car accident will save you a lot of trouble in the future. It will also help you to keep calm, allowing you to get the information you need.
Remember, sometimes accidents can be complicated, so don’t be afraid to consult a personal injury attorney to get the legal help you need.
Make sure to check out the rest of our blog today for more helpful lifestyle tips and tricks!