Statistically speaking, most of us will end up in a car crash every 17 years.
While many of these incidents may be minor fender benders, a severe crash can leave us blindsided and unsure where to turn. No matter your driving record, it’s safe to say that it’s a good idea to know what to do after a car accident.
Here are the most important steps to take to navigate the aftermath of a crash.
1. Check Yourself for Injuries
Check yourself and any passengers for injuries before you do anything else. If anyone is hurt, call 911 for emergency medical services. If you have a first aid kit in your car, perform basic first aid as needed.
2. Make Sure You’re in a Safe Area
In an ideal situation, you’ll leave your car where it is so that the police can see the exact placement of your vehicle after the crash.
However, if you’re in a busy street or intersection, or if your car ended up in any other place that could endanger your safety, you should move it. If it’s safe to do so, take a photo first.
3. Gather Evidence
Call the police if you haven’t already done so. While waiting for them to arrive, get the other driver’s details and capture photo and video evidence of the scene. Here are a few things to collect:
- The other driver’s contact information
- The make and model of the other vehicle
- The license plate and VIN of the other vehicle
- Visual evidence of damage to both vehicles
- Visual evidence of any injuries
- Visual evidence of nearby road signs and traffic signals
You should also jot down everything you can remember about the accident as it happened. In traumatic events, adrenaline can affect our ability to recall information, so having a written record may help you in the future.
4. Talk to the Police
Cooperate with the police and answer all questions. Show them any photo or video evidence you gathered, especially if you moved your car. Do not admit fault or apologize in any way, don’t say you weren’t injured (even if you think you weren’t), and ask for a copy of the completed police report.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance company within 24 hours. Work with your insurance agent to start the claim process and learn what to expect.
6. See a Doctor
Whether or not you think you were injured, it’s important to see a doctor. Some car accident injuries can be subtle and difficult to detect, but a medical professional can help. In addition, medical documentation of your injuries may be required for any legal claims you make.
7. Speak to a Lawyer
This is optional, depending on the circumstances of the accident. However, if you want assistance reaching a settlement or filing a lawsuit, an experienced lawyer can mean all the difference. Lawyers will be well aware of the car crash stats for your area, including the possible outcomes of similar cases and the likelihood of a good result.
Know What to Do After a Car Accident
When it comes to the aftermath of auto accidents, emotions and adrenaline can make the process difficult to navigate. But knowing what to do after a car accident—well before you end up in a crash—can help you secure the medical and legal car accident help you need to recover. Follow these tips to secure a better outcome and make your next steps less overwhelming.
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