With the United States recording an 18% increase in car crash fatalities last year, it’s important to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. The aftermath of a crash can be stressful and confusing, but there are steps you can take to make things easier for everyone involved. Below is a step-by-step list of actions every driver needs to do after an accident:
- Check yourself and your passengers for injuries
After an accident, it’s paramount to take a few minutes to assess the situation. The first thing you should do is evaluate your own health and the health of any passengers. If anyone has fractures or active bleeding, request medical attention immediately. That said, if nobody is presenting obvious injury, but the accident was major enough, it’s still best to call for medical personnel. The National Institute of Health warns that injuries such as whiplash may not present themselves immediately after the incident due to shock, so it’s crucial to take note of signs such as headaches, trouble breathing, or swelling. Once paramedics arrive, be sure to tell them your symptoms so they can decide on the best response they can take.
- Call the police
No matter how minor the accident seems, it’s necessary to get the police involved. If possible, move your vehicle away from traffic and off the road. Make sure to turn on your hazard lights so other drivers on the road know there has been an accident. If anyone is hurt or injured in any way, call 911 immediately. In any case, it’s always a good idea to call the police after any kind of car accident. The authorities can help you, and the other drivers understand what happened and guarantee that everyone is safe and unharmed. Should things get heated, law enforcement can also keep the peace.
- Document the accident
Once you’ve confirmed everyone is okay and no one is injured, take a look at the damage. At this point, it’s crucial to document the incident as thoroughly as possible. Take pictures of the scene and the cars involved to show the police and insurance company. It would be best if you also wrote down everything you remember about the accident—where and when it happened and who was involved. Lastly, exchange contact information with other drivers involved in the accident. Make sure to get their name, address, phone number, and insurance information.
- Assess your car’s condition
Following your general documentation, assess your car’s condition for a few minutes. It could either be partially damaged or totaled. A guide on what to do about a totaled car by Sound Dollar explains that a vehicle is considered totaled if the cost to repair it is more than its market value. Knowing how bad the damage is will be important when you file your insurance claim later on because once a claim has commenced, your insurer will send an inspector to take a look and prepare an appraisal. Your options after the car accident—replacement, reimbursement, or repair—will largely depend on your car’s condition and the damage’s severity.
- Notify your insurance company and lawyer
Once all the previous steps have been taken, it’s time to notify your insurance company and, if necessary, a lawyer. By filing a claim with your insurance provider, you can get compensation for property damage, medical expenses, and other covered expenses. After talking with your insurance company, call up a personal injury lawyer if you deem it necessary. Our previous post on “5 Long-Term Effects Of Personal Injury”, emphasized that accidents can cause physical and cognitive consequences that can cost a lot to treat. As such, personal injury lawyers can help investigate the cause of the accident and ensure that you receive compensation to cover your expenses.
If you’ve been in an accident, it’s completely normal to worry about how to handle the situation correctly. Having familiarity with the steps to take can give you peace of mind and help you protect your rights as you traverse the roads.