Did you know that car crashes in the United States lead to around 4.4 million serious injuries and 38,000 deaths annually? Even accidents like minor benders can lead to conditions like whiplash and stress and expensive damage.
When you do have your first car accident, you don’t want to have to worry about what to do along with handle any injuries or damage. So you’ll want to get prepared to better ensure your safety and avoid forgetting skipping out on properly reporting the incident.
Read on to learn what to do after a car crash.
1. Stop and Assess the Situation
If you’ve caused the accident, you might worry about the consequences and try to drive off. However, this will get you in legal trouble and make your situation worse.
In any situation, try to stop your car immediately. This will help preserve any evidence of the accident for you to document. Of course, you may need to move over to the side of the road if you’re blocking traffic and are able to.
Once you’re stopped in a safe place, use flares or another signal to warn others of the accident as needed.
2. Contact the Appropriate Authorities
Resist the urge to move around if you think you may have an injury. Otherwise, check yourself and others in the car, but don’t try to move anybody who seems seriously injured. If you’re able to, you should also check on the people in the other car.
Call 911 immediately for any serious injury in either of the cars. The ambulance will come and provide on-site care and transportation to a hospital as needed.
For minor issues, you may handle some basic first aid yourself if you have the ability. However, you’ll still want to consider formal medical care later.
If you called 911, the police should already be coming to document the accident. Otherwise, it’s still a good idea to call the non-emergency police department number, and some states actually require this for all accidents or certain types.
The police will ask questions and take a look at the scene. They may determine if any driving offenses occurred and give tickets as needed. Be honest yet cautious in what you say.
Keep the police report since your car insurance company will likely want it.
3. Share Important Information With the Other Driver
Alongside the police report, you’ll need to get some key information from the other driver and share your own. This includes insurance company information, names, addresses, and phone numbers.
When speaking with the other driver, watch what you say.
You don’t want to admit that you caused the accident or did anything that suggested you drove carelessly. You also don’t want to accept any informal agreement to pay for damages or agree not to report the accident to the insurers.
4. Collect as Much Evidence as Possible
To get the best results for your insurance claim and handle any liability arguments, don’t skimp on collecting evidence.
Start with pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and any injuries. Some things to document include license plate numbers, the address or intersection, the types of cars, and positions of the vehicles.
You can then look around for witnesses and have them make statements if they’re willing. You might also write your account of the accident in case the details get fuzzy later.
5. Get Any Other Necessary Medical Care
If you need non-emergency medical care or want to get checked out, do so as soon as you’ve dealt with the initial car crash aftermath. Some signs you might need a doctor include neck pain from whiplash, dizziness, serious cuts, and mental health issues.
You can consider going to the local urgent care center or hospital. If it’s even less serious, then you may wait to see your primary care doctor. Be sure to describe your symptoms clearly and explain when they happened after the accident occurred.
No matter what, keep all documents related to your medical visits and fees. Your insurance company will need this, and in the event that you sue the other driver, the attorney and court will consider such documentation.
6. Contact Your Insurer
Deciding whether to let your insurance company know about the car accident might seem like a tricky decision. After all, you may worry that it will be an additional hassle and could lead to higher premiums, especially if you’re at fault.
However, you may break your insurer’s policy terms if you forego reporting the accident. You also may not get the money you deserve if you try to make an informal financial agreement with the other driver instead.
To protect yourself and your finances, call your insurer as soon as you safely can. They’ll ask for details about the accident, along with the evidence and documents you’ve collected.
When working with the insurer, be careful about accepting offers or settlements. You’ll want to make sure the money offered seems fair for the damage and injuries caused.
7. Consider a Car Accident Attorney
Depending on the effects of your accident, you may want to reach out to a car accident attorney, like this service. Particularly, they can help you with the car accident aftermath, whether you’ve faced injuries, major damage, or conflicts with your insurance company.
If you opt for an attorney, you’ll want to consider whether the potential financial benefits exceed the fees. It may be worth it if you’re owed a lot of money for time off work and significant disability after the accident. However, a minor fender bender probably doesn’t warrant a lawyer.
You’ll want to research local car accident attorneys, check their credentials and reviews, and have a consultation before deciding on one.
Now You’re Prepared for Your First Car Accident
Having these tips in hand won’t prevent your first car accident. However, they will make an already stressful experience less overwhelming.
Remember that you can also take steps to drive safely and become more aware of others’ behaviors. For example, you might consider a defensive driving course, avoid distractions while driving, and look ahead on the road.
Our blog has plenty of other legal content and life tips. Be sure to take a look at our other posts!