Getting into a car accident is the last thing individuals should have to worry about. Being injured in an accident can result in loss of work time, expensive medical bills, and damage to your vehicle. With over six million car accidents that occur in the country each year, knowing what to do after an accident is a key to recovering from the loss. Here are the most important steps to take after a car accident.
Ensure Your Safety
After an accident, you may feel a little shaky, disoriented, and nervous which is completely normal. It’s important to take a second, a deep breath and try to focus as much as you can. Turn the hazard lights on and if your vehicle is still drivable, try to get over to the side of the road. If it is not safe, leave the car where it is and wait until the police arrive. Make sure you are safe as well as any passengers. Do not leave the scene of the accident, this can also put you at risk and could result in legal and insurance consequences.
If you were injured enough to require medical attention, call 911 immediately as emergency personnel will get you to the hospital. You can check on the driver of the other vehicle if you are able to but do not get into any conversations regarding the accident. Adrenaline is often running high after a vehicle crash and you may not feel the effects of an accident until days after. If you do experience pain days after the crash, still get medical attention to have the extent of your injuries evaluated.
Contact the Police
Regardless of the extent of the vehicle crash, getting a police report for insurance purposes is of the utmost importance. In many states, it’s actually required to contact the police as you are legally required to file a report. The police officer will take down everyone’s personal information, a description of what happened, and any other information that will be used by either an attorney or insurance company. Don’t make small talk or offer your opinion of what occurred, only specify the facts and necessary information. The less you say at the scene of the crash, the better as you don’t want to be deemed at fault.
Take Photos and Gather Information
Since just about everyone has cell phones these days, take photos of the scene if your phone is on you. Grab photos of the vehicles, damage, intersection, and any street signs if the scene is safe. These photos can help your claim in the future. You will want information from the other driver to give to your insurance agency such as name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance information. Document the date and time of the accident, what city and road you were on, closest intersection, the direction you were driving in, the driving conditions, the weather, and your memory of what happened.
Call Your Insurance Company
Contacting the insurance company after the accident should be your next step. This is important even if you were not at fault in the accident, the insurance company will work everything out. If you have not been contacted by the at-fault party’s insurance company after several days, contact them and let them know of the accident. The insurance company is going to ask you some questions and only answer the questions they ask, do not offer any other information. If the insurance company wants to record a statement, don’t give one as it may be held against you later on.
Contact an Attorney
An attorney can serve several purposes after an auto accident and help you get reimbursed for medical care and your car repaired or replaced. Contacting an attorney who is experienced in auto accidents is important to ensure the accurate handling of your claim. Your attorney may want a copy of the accident report which can be obtained through California accident report lookup.
An auto accident can be nerve-wracking but taking these necessary steps after an accident can help ensure your safety and the accurate processing of your claim. Staying calm and gathering your thoughts is important to help everyone around you stay calm and collected after an accident.
Author information: Sierra Powell graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a major in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing. When she’s not writing, she loves to cook, sew, and go hiking with her dogs.