No one plans to be in a car accident, but it happens – thousands of times each year, in every state. Since these unfortunate events are so relatively common, it is important for everyone who drives to know what to do when one happens. That way, drivers will be prepared to handle whatever issues may arise afterwards.
A lot of incidents are minor enough that there is little to do beyond the communication at the scene, but sometimes accidents involve major injuries and a lot of expensive damage. Make sure you should know how to protect yourself after an auto accident.
First: The moments after
Before you move or attempt to survey the damage to the vehicle, it is important to center yourself and to take inventory of your own sensations. You also want to check on your passengers if you are able. Looking yourself over and doing an internal inventory to see if you are hurt is a good way to make sure you do not move and aggravate an injury if you do have one, and checking your passengers will help you to determine whether you need to call for medical attention.
Second: Surveying damage
If you are able to safely move the vehicle or exit it, getting it as far off the road as possible and checking the damage is the next thing to do. That will help you to understand what has happened, but it is something you should only do if you can safely exit the vehicle. When it is safe to do so, you should take the following steps:
Contact the authorities – this needs to be done quickly if you need medical attention, otherwise it is less urgent but still necessary.
Trade insurance information with the other driver, to be sure you both have everything you need to resolve the situation.
Give a police statement. This is important because it helps to document your narrative of the crash, and you can request a copy of the statement later if you need it for your records.
Take photographs if possible of the scene or ask a police officer to take them for you if you are unable to do so. Make sure the photographs are taken of the vehicles as well as the surrounding environment.
Get the names and contact information for any witnesses. Witnesses can help corroborate what happened.
Third: After the accident
Once you have received any necessary medical care on site and your vehicle is taken care of, there is still more to do to resolve the accident. The cause will need to be determined, and that will affect whose insurance has to pay for the expenses. Although you must report the accident, it is important you speak to a personal injury attorney before providing any recorded statements as these can potentially be used against you.
A qualified attorney can help you understand your rights to compensation to cover your medical bills and repair costs. If you have been in an accident recently, make sure you contact an attorney promptly to get the assistance you need.