5 Things You Must Always Do After a Car Accident
If you get your driver’s license and you drive for decades, the chances are high that you’ll get in an accident at some point. You make that less likely by driving safely and obeying all traffic laws. Still, the longer you drive, the higher the chances that another car will collide with you, even if it’s just a fender bender.
Some people aren’t sure what to do right after an accident. There’s a procedure that you must follow, though, and you don’t want to neglect any of the vital steps. Let’s run through those right now, so you know what to do if you’re ever in this unfortunate situation.
Get to Safety
Safety should always be your priority after a crash. You might get in an accident in the middle of a busy highway, or maybe you’re on a deserted street with no one else around but you and the other driver.
In either case, the first thing you’ll need to determine is whether you can steer your car out of the road.
If you can do that, you might drive it onto the shoulder or the median. Maybe there’s a parking lot right next to the crash site.
However, maybe the crash damaged the vehicle so badly that you cannot move it. Also, if you’re seriously hurt, you won’t be able to move the car at all, and someone else will have to do it.
If you can move the car out of the way, do so, but if you can’t, forget about the vehicle and get to safety yourself. If you spend too much time out on the road trying to move the car, you risk another vehicle coming along and hitting you, especially if you’re in the middle of an active highway or there are poor weather conditions.
Get Medical Attention for Yourself and Others
Getting medical attention for yourself and others should be your next priority. If the accident hurt you, and you have a smartphone, your next move should be to call 911, assuming you’re physically able to do that.
If you’re unconscious, you’ll have to hope that the other driver called 911 or that another driver or a passing pedestrian did. Assuming you can call for help, that’s the next thing you should do, because even if you feel like you’re physically okay, you might not be. Adrenaline is probably racing through you, and you may have sustained a serious injury without being aware of it.
If you don’t have a smartphone, and no one else has one, you’ll have to look for an emergency call box or something similar. They have those on the highway, but if you’re in a residential area, you might have to go to a nearby store or some other establishment and have them call the authorities for you.
Call the Police
When you use your smartphone to call for medical assistance, or the other driver does, you should tell the operator to send the police as well. You need medical attention first, as any other crash victims do, but after that, the next step will be reporting to the police what happened.
When the police get there, assuming you’re conscious and able to talk to them, they’ll ask you some basic questions about what happened. They’ll need that information for the report they’ll fill out in the spot.
They’ll ask for your full name, your driver’s license number, your insurance information, and then they’ll ask for some basic accident details. It’s best to tell the truth. Don’t embellish what happened. You don’t have to admit wrongdoing, but don’t omit any critical detail.
If the police suspect that you drank before driving, they might decide to give you a breathalyzer. You’ll have to submit to one, or they could arrest you.
The next thing you should do, if you’re able, is to document the scene a little. If you have your smartphone with you, it will probably have a camera feature.
You can use that to take a few accident photos or video if you prefer. You can get the crash site, your vehicle’s state, the weather, the responding officer and their badge number, the other car’s license plate, and any other relevant details.
All of this might come in handy later if the other driver disputes your accident claim. You can back up your assertions the more physical evidence you have. This can protect you if you have to file a lawsuit against the other driver.
This is one of the reasons why it’s such a good idea to have a smartphone with you whenever you go for a drive, even a short one. You never know when you’ll get in an accident, and that phone with the camera can benefit you.
Call Your Insurance Company
You don’t have to do this next step at the accident scene, and it’s probably better that you don’t. You’ll have to call your insurance company without delay to report the crash, but you can wait till you’re back home and you’ve had time to process what happened.
Once your heart has started beating normally again, you’re out of the elements, and you’re in a safe environment, call your insurance provider and fill them in on the crash.
Like talking to the police, you don’t want to lie or omit any details. However, you don’t need to admit blame, even if you feel like what happened was your fault. Any time that you make statements indicating what happened was your fault, those can come back to bite you later.
These are the most essential steps through which you’ll go after a car crash. After you’ve gone through all these, you might need to contact a lawyer if you feel like you’ll either file a lawsuit against the other driver, or they might bring one against you. All that will come later, though, after you get through these critical preliminary steps.