No matter if you’ve been driving for years or you just recently earned your driver’s license, accidents happen.
Most drivers will get in some sort of crash throughout their lifetime, and it’s important to know how to handle these types of situations.
With millions of accidents happening every year in the United States, it’s crucial to know what to do. Most wrecks only involve damage to vehicles, but one-third of them deal with injuries to drivers and passengers.
You need to keep yourself and your vehicle safe.
We’ve comprised a list of important steps and other helpful things to remember if you get in a car accident.
- Remain calm: Accidents can be scary, and there’s a lot going on. It may sound obvious, but try to remain calm so you can walk through your post-accident process. Take a second to breathe and take in your surroundings.
- Stay on the scene: Even after a fender bender, never leave the crash site. You need to protect the scene for evidence of what happened. You might want to keep flares in your car to prevent further accidents from taking place. Unless the cars are blocking traffic, the vehicles involved in the collision need to stay put.
- Call the police: It’s always a good idea to call the police for help, even if it’s just a small accident. You may need them to fill out a report or claim for vehicle damage. They can also help people in need and mitigate the situation.
- Fill out an accident report: When the police arrive, give them an accurate report of what happened. It may be difficult to recollect certain aspects of the event, in which case you will need to let the officer know that you do not remember parts. Never speculate or guess. If they ask you if you are injured and you aren’t sure, let them know that, as well. Do not assume you’re not injured, as many symptoms can develop hours later. Additionally, make sure the other party’s report is accurate, if you’re given the chance.
- Take pictures: Documenting the accident is vital for accurate representation and evidence. Take many pictures of damage, the area, injuries and more. As long as you’re not interfering with a police investigation, its a good idea to have your own set of evidence.
- Exchange information: The officer responding to your call usually takes care of this, but you need to exchange information with all parties involved. You should obtain everyone’s name, address, phone number and insurance information. If there are witnesses, you’ll want to get their testimony and information, as well.
- Seek medical attention: Many injuries caused by auto accidents aren’t apparent until weeks, months, or even years later. Unless you are 100% certain you are not injured, you should seek help at a local emergency room or with your physician. It’s especially important to seek attention if you have an injury to your head. You could have sustained head trauma that can affect your brain. Untreated brain injuries can cause irreparable behavioral changes or cognitive issues, so be sure to seek help if you’ve experienced any head trauma.
- File the incident with your insurance: Let your insurance provider know as soon as possible about the crash. Find out about any medical benefits that you have and all other relevant information. Your insurance provider will help you walk through this process. Keep a file of all your information and pictures from the accident.
- Call your attorney: You need to protect your rights. An attorney can help you do that -- and protect vital information about the accident. A skilled attorney can help you with giving statements to your insurance, as well as what you should say. This person will also help make sure you are correctly compensated for the incident and help you find the best medical treatment.