Car accidents can be traumatic, and even seemingly minor fender benders may end up being serious if there are hidden injuries or damage to your vehicle. It will be easier to stay calm if you know what to do when an accident happens.
To help, here are 6 key points to remember after a car accident.
1. Move to a safe place
Take a deep breath and pull to the right side of the road, if possible. Even though your journey has come to a sudden stop, other vehicles around you need to pass. In fact, leaving your car in a traveling lane is not only inconsiderate, it can lead to more accidents.
“However, if the crash is more severe or if anyone is hurt, leave the vehicles where they are,” according to AARP.
Either way, turn your hazard lights on, so other vehicles know that you are unable to move your vehicle.
2. Check for injuries and damage
Check in with yourself and any passengers to see if there are obvious injuries or if there is pain without a clear cause. If so, it will be important to know, so you can take care of yourself and the people with you, and so you can tell the police, insurance companies, attorneys, or any other professionals that may get involved in your case.
You should also check for damage to your entire vehicle, not just the area of impact. For example, sometimes doors or trunks that look intact may be askew.
3. Call for help, if needed
If someone is injured badly enough to need attention, immediately call for medical help. If there are minor injuries or property damage, you will still want to call the police, as filing a report creates a record of the accident that insurance companies and lawyers can later reference. The report should include information about who was involved and everyone’s accounts of what happened.
4. Record the scene
Ideally, no one would drive away from the scene of an accident, but it’s wise to take note of the other vehicle’s license plate number and anything that could identify the vehicle, such as make, model, color, and unique markings.
Even better is to take photos. After all, the camera on your phone may be a more reliable witness than faulty memories. Snap shots of the scene, the vehicles, the damage, and anything else that seems relevant. If there are conflicting accounts of what happened, pictures may help settle those conflicts.
5. Share information
Share your insurance information with the other driver and ask for the same.
“Check to see if your car insurance company has a mobile app that can help you document the accident while at the scene,” Insure.com says. “Some of the best car insurance companies have apps that come with an accident checklist and tell you how to best gather information so you can make a claim with it or the other party’s insurer.”
If there were any witnesses, ask for their contact information and make sure you include it on a police report.
6. Contact a car accident attorney
A prompt investigation is critical to discovering all causes of an accident and injuries, so don’t wait to contact an attorney. Particularly if you are seeking compensation for injuries or property damage, an attorney can help you deal with insurance companies and even file a lawsuit if necessary.
To schedule a free consultation with an attorney about your accident and determine whether you have a case, visit our contact page.