Right in the aftermath of a car accident, there’s a high probability that you’ll be dealing with some mental trauma. Unfortunately, it’s still expected of you to take the right steps to protect your rights.
That’s why you’ll be better off familiarizing yourself with what to do before you’re in the midst of a wreck, and you’re trying to wring your fragile brain and remember the things you need to do.
If you’re unfamiliar with the process, no worries at all. You’ve come to the right place.
Keep on reading for our step-by-step breakdown of all the things you need to do right after a car accident.
Car Accident Step 1: Check for Injuries
The very first step would be checking yourself for obvious injuries. If you find yourself seriously injured, then try to limit your movements as much as possible, and call 911.
If not, you’ll want to check on the well-being of your passengers next. You’ll take the same step of calling emergency personnel in case they’re injured.
Step 2: Get to Safety
After assessing the health and mobility of both you and your passengers, you’ll want to move away from the middle of the road, and get to safety.
Also, if your car is safe to drive, you can slowly park it by the side of the road. Otherwise, you can leave it where it is, and get yourself to safety.
Step 3: Call 911
Regardless of whether the car accident was minor or a major head-on collision, you must call the police. Depending on your state, it might actually legally required of you to do so.
The officers who respond to your call will fill out an accident report, as well as document the scene. This police report is an essential document that you’ll need to have on hand during the claims process with your insurer. After calling 911, you can turn off your engine and turn on your hazard lights.
Besides, if you have road flares in your emergency car kit, you’ll want to use them to warn other cars to slow down.
Step 4: Exchange Information With the Other Driver
At this point, you can start exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver. If the police officers are on the scene, they’ll be helping out during this process.
Here are some of the basic information that you should collect:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Type, color, and model of both vehicles
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Accident location and time
While you’re collecting this data, we recommend avoiding discussing who’s at fault with the other driver. After all, during the insurance claim process, the adjuster will be reviewing your claim to determine who’s at fault, right after inspecting the damaged vehicles.
They’ll be using the information you’ve collected, as well as additional documentation from the police officers like scene photographs, and other involved parties.
Step 5: Document Everything
To cover your legal bases, you’ll want to document (almost) everything you can get your hands on. In this case, there is no such thing as too much information.
There are some foundational data points that you need to get, but feel free to add more information as you go.
- The responding police officers: the minute they arrive, you’ll want to write down their names, as well as their badge numbers.
- Get a copy of the accident report: the police officers will be filling in an accident report. You’ll want to get a copy, so make sure to ask them how you can do so.
- Take pictures: the more visual evidence you have, the better off you’ll be. You can take photographs showing the damage done to both cars, as well as a snap of the other car’s license plate.
- Talk to witnesses: If there are any, make sure to take their account of what happened. Also, grab their names and contact information as well.
Gather all of this information, then keep it all in one place by creating an accident information page that you could put in your car.
Step 6: Create an Accident Information List
After going through all of the previous steps, you’ll want to do a final check on all the information you have on hand. If they don’t include the following data points, you’ll want to add them while your memory is fresh.
- Date and Time of the Accident
- Address of the accident, or approximate address
- The road you are on and the nearest cross street or landmark
- The direction you were traveling in
- The direction the other car was traveling in
- What happened in detail: As soon as you can write out your account of what happened, or use your mobile phone to record yourself telling all the details for your own records. It’s easy to forget the details when you are all shaken up from a crash, so recording you talking about it might help.
- Any notes about strange driving conditions, the weather, or the visibility (or lack thereof)
It might seem excessive, but you’d rather have them than lose a chunk of the money you should have gotten from the settlement due to lack of evidence.
Step 7: Notify Insurer and Start the Claims Process
At long last, you’re done with the information gathering process.
Now, might want to call your insurance agent as well as a car accident lawyer either at the scene or on the same day of the accident. This way you’ll confirm that you have everything you need to start the claims process.
Get a Car Accident Attorney to Protect Your Rights
We know how overwhelming it might be to try and put your thoughts in order right after a car accident. But, to get all the settlement you deserve, you’ll have to take your precautions.
After reading our guide on all the steps you’ll have to take right after an accident, you’ll be much better informed when you contact your lawyer, which can immensely ease the legal process.
If you still have a question (or three), we’d be delighted if you contact us and we’ll help you get the information you need. For now, you might be interested in learning more about personal injury and auto accident tips and strategies, so make sure to check out our blog.