What To Do After a Car Accident
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in 2013 a total of 54 million people worldwide sustained injuries from traffic collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists that in 2016, there were an estimated 7.2 million police-reported traffic crashes. Causes of car accidents range from distracted or reckless drivers to driving under the influence. Even weather can play an important factor in driving safely. Car accidents can happen to anyone at any time, whether it’s a rear-end or head-on collision. Therefore, it’s important to be prepared and know what to do after a car accident.
Remaining calm (easier said than done) is the most important step. According to nerdwallet, “The post-accident process is fairly straightforward, but it’s not always easy. Keeping a cool head will help you document the wreck more thoroughly and accurately.” And, the post-accident checklist often escapes even the most prepared drivers.
It’s almost impossible to think clearly. Your head is buzzing with questions like was it my fault? Do I get out of the car? Where do I park my car? Should I call the police? How will I pay for damages? How will I pay for my injuries?
The steps below will help keep your stress in check.
Step 1: Remain calm and Check the Scene for Injuries
Safety is the number one priority in a car accident. Check yourself and passengers for injuries. If injuries are present, then report them to first responders (call 911). Also, check your surroundings. Consider moving your car to the shoulder of the road (if a minor accident). Place your hazard lights on, engage the parking brake, and turn off your car. Consider exiting your vehicle (if you are not seriously injured) and sit on the sidewalk.
Step 2: Call the Police
Call the police. Be prepared to present the office with your license, registration, and insurance information. In return, you can ask the officer for his name, badge number, and contact info. Also, ask for a final copy of the accident report for insurance purposes. Finally, it’s not your job to determine who was at fault. Do not openly say that you caused the accident. Insurance companies and attorneys can sort out the details.
Step 3: Gather Information
Gather information. Name, phone number, address, as well as insurance information (company name and policy number). Also get witness statements and contact information, if able, and always document the scene with videos or photographs.
Step 4: Contact Insurance Companies
Contact insurance companies to update them on the situation. You may call from the scene of the accident to begin the claims process.
Step 5: Consider Hiring an Accident Attorney
Consider hiring an accident attorney to help with injury claims and to discuss legal options. Sometimes an insurance company will delay or deny your claim. An accident attorney can help walk through compensation options. HPS Law, specifically, can help with the aftermath. They’ve handled thousands of car accident cases and helped victims recover damages. The consultation calls are absolutely free.
Store this checklist in your glove box in case you find yourself involved in a car accident.