Getting into a car accident is a scary experience. The result can be damage to your body and your property, residual effects on your mental health, and hefty bills that can alter the course of your life.
For these reasons, everyone should know what to do if they get in a car accident. Here are the important steps to take if you get in a car accident, so that you’re prepared should the worst happen.
Prioritize Safety and Integrity
In the moments following an accident, it’s normal to go into shock. Things may feel surreal, and you may not have a clear memory of these moments later on. Before anything else, it’s important to prioritize the safety of yourself and others and the integrity of the scene.
If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road. Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it isn’t your fault. Get out of the car when it’s safe to do so. If you are feeling unwell, stay where you are and limit movement. If the car is smoking or you’re in a dangerous area, it’s imperative to get out of the car.
Put on your flashers or light road flares to indicate that there is a problem. The more you are able to keep the scene intact, the more effective the investigation will be. You should call the police at this time to identify whether their presence is required – you may require a report for your insurance.
It’s vital to document everything at the accident, not only for your current insurance claim, but in case you have any further claims in the future. For example, if you end up with a chronic injury caused by the accident, you may require documentation for a lawsuit (get more on this site).
Collect the pertinent information from the other driver, including:
- License plate number
- Car make and model
- Insurance information
- Details about the accident from their perspective
- Attending police officer’s information (badge number, incident report, etc.)
Remember to mind your personal wellness and avoid confrontation if the person seems agitated or angry. Don’t apologize or claim fault in any way: it could come back to haunt you later. Feel free to take photos of the scene as well.
Get Medical Attention
It’s essential that you seek immediate medical attention, even if you feel fine after the accident. The adrenaline and shock may trick your body into not feeling pain for hours or even days following the incident. Getting to a doctor right away can help identify any hidden injuries and deal with them accordingly.
Having a medical visit on file is also important for any insurance claims, time off work for relevant appointments or future litigation. This is a crucial step that many people make the mistake of skipping after an accident. Keep all of your records together in a safe place.
Take it Easy
If possible, take the day following the accident off from work. You’ll have a lot of phone calls to make regarding insurance and legal protection. Additionally, you may have to go for further medical testing if you have any internal injuries. It’s common to experience whiplash following an accident. For this type of situation, adequate rest is essential for promoting healing and for reducing stress surrounding the incident.
There’s also a good chance that your vehicle may need to be inspected or may be deemed unfit for driving. Make the necessary phone calls right away and follow your physician’s advice regarding rest and healing protocols.
By knowing the steps to take ahead of time, you’re preparing yourself for an often confusing situation. Hopefully, this is valuable information that you’ll never have to use.