Car accidents are incredibly common. Did you know that the average person will get into an accident three to four times over the course of their driving career? If you’ve been driving for a while and haven’t been in an accident, consider yourself lucky.
However, if you are one of the three million people in the US injured by a car accident every year, you know how difficult they can be. From dealing with injuries to insurance companies, the entire process can be overwhelming. There are some things you can do after an auto accident to make things easier on yourself, however.
Read on for our tips on what to do if you get into an accident.
1. Stay Calm
Although it might be difficult, especially if the accident was a serious one, try to remain calm. If you can stay calm, it will be easier to think with a level head and do the things that you need to do. This is especially important if the other drivers or others involves are not calm or if you have children or other passengers in your vehicle.
2. Secure the Scene
If it is safe and the damage is minor, move your vehicle from the road. If the damage has made your car undrivable, turn on the hazard lights and set up flares or other indicators so others know that there is an accident.
If anyone is seriously injured, do not move them. Instead, wait for first responders to arrive. If you are not injured or your injuries are minor, move away from the accident and get as far off the road as possible and away from traffic.
3. Call the Police
Most states require that you call the police if there are any injuries or any property damage. You’ll also need a police report for an insurance claim and you’ll want the police report if you need to contact an attorney for any reason.
If there are serious injuries, make sure that paramedics are sent to the accident scene as well. If you have any serious injuries, don’t delay getting medical treatment.
4. Document the Accident
While you are waiting for the police and/or paramedics to respond, document the accident scene. If you have a smartphone with a camera, take pictures of the accident. Take pictures of the damaged vehicles, both up close and of the entire vehicle, the immediate area, and any other things that are relevant, such as a damaged road, missing road signs, or other hazards.
If it’s possible, take a quick video of the scene as well. Note all the details that you can remember, including the time of the accident, the weather conditions, what the other driver(s) were doing immediately before the accident, and any other relevant details. Try to do this as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in your mind.
5. Gather Contact Information
This information will likely be in the police report, but you should gather it for your records as well. Get the information of the other driver, including their name, insurance company, and policy number. Drivers do not have to give you information such as their address or license number and you are discouraged from giving more information than is legally necessary because of the potential for identity theft.
You can’t the other drivers’ information in the police report, so don’t worry about getting their identity information other than your insurance information. If there are other witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information as well. Your insurance company or attorney may need this information if they need to get statements from them.
6. Seek Medical Attention
You might think that your injuries are not severe or that you are not hurt. However, many auto accident injuries don’t emerge right away and instead take a few days to really manifest themselves. The adrenaline that is flowing after the crash might also mask any injuries that you have.
Even if you refuse medical attention at the scene, you should still go to the emergency room to get checked out shortly after the accident. You’ll need to document any injuries so the insurance company can’t deny your claim or argue that your injuries were preexisting and not the result of the accident.
7. Call Your Insurance Company
Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you still need to contact your insurance company. They will work to determine fault and how they want to proceed, especially if the other driver was at fault. Your insurance company may go after the insurance company of the driver if they were the cause of the accident.
8. Never Admit Fault
Speaking of fault, you should never admit fault for the accident. Anything you say can later be used against you, so don’t admit that you were at fault even if you think you were. Further, fault is not always readily apparent. There can be other things going on that you weren’t aware of that contributed to the accident.
Leave it to the insurance companies and police to determine who was at fault.
9. Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you were seriously injured in the accident and the insurance company is denying your claim or offers you a settlement that is much lower than what you think you are entitled to, you should contact an attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and ensure that you get fair compensation.
Remember that insurance companies are looking out for their bottom line and want you to settle for the lowest amount possible. Your attorney can advise you what sort of compensation you should expect based on your injuries and the accident characteristics.
Take Control After an Auto Accident
If you are able to stop, take a deep breath, and get in the right mindset after an auto accident, you will be able to think clearly and deal with the accident more effectively. Being logical and levelheaded will benefit you in the long run.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact us at Sweet Lawyers. Our attorneys specialize in personal injury cases, including auto accidents, and are standing by to provide a free case consultation.