Car accidents are known to rattle even a person with nerves of steel. The most important thing to do immediately after an accident is to take some deep breaths, focus and take stock of the situation. Even though you may not feel up to it, it is imperative to remain as calm as possible to make sure you protect yourself and your interests.
First Things First
It is essential to check on the health and safety of all involved. Check yourself for injuries and call 911, or ask someone close by to do so on your behalf. Check the well-being of any passengers you had traveling with you. Get to safety, but do not leave the scene of the accident, no matter how minor. Make sure the engine is turned off, put your hazard lights on, and light road flares if possible. The vehicles involved in the accident should not be moved unless they are interfering with traffic.
Gather Your Wits and Accurate Information
You will need to communicate with the other driver and exchange information. It is important to take detailed contact information from all persons involved – drivers and passengers alike. You will need full names and contact details, insurance company names and policy numbers, driver’s license number, vehicle license plate number, type, model, and color of the vehicle, time of day, traffic and weather conditions, and location of the accident. Please note any other road hazards or relevant information like it being in a construction zone.
When the police arrive, also take down the names and badge numbers of the responding officers. You need to report the facts to them calmly from your perspective: do not point fingers, accuse others, or admit fault. Also, make sure that the statements made by other persons in the accident are accurate. Take photos of the accident scene from various perspectives. Photograph visible injuries as well. If there are any witnesses, take down their names and contact information – these details will prove most valuable and necessary in the long run.
If the police were on site, they should provide you with a police report number. If not, you need to report it to the nearest police station and obtain the number. As soon as possible, you should notify your insurance company. Even in minor accidents, you should seek medical attention. Some injuries are not immediately apparent and can be life-threatening if left untreated. It is likely to be very obvious if an accident is so minor that it does not warrant advice from an attorney. If there is any doubt, run through this quick checklist to help you make the decision.
Contact an attorney if any medical conditions result from the accident (long or short term), any deaths, medical costs, loss of income due to the time off from normal activities, dispute over fault, multiple people harmed, inaccurate paperwork, or complex details involved. Many attorneys offer a free consultation – take advantage of this and feel free to seek second opinions.
It is best to choose an experienced, compassionate attorney dedicated to assisting you in navigating through your accident claims or settlements. If you’re unsure whether the situation warrants a claim, check this blog post that answers the question, ‘Should I get an attorney after a car accident?’ Understandably, this seems like a lot to remember, but you can even keep a notebook in your car for such emergencies, with all these details of what is required of you. Try to keep your head clear and focused, and you will get through this stressful situation with ease.