Unfortunately, a car accident can happen to anyone. Even a safe driver can get distracted for a few seconds and not see another car coming in time to stop. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) there are nearly 3,000 fatal car crashes each year in the state of California alone. Though right now it may seem like a car accident could never happen to you, it is important to know what to do if the unthinkable happened.
Use the following list as a guide for what to do immediately after a car accident.
Step 1: Remain Calm.
After that initial crash, it may seem like there’s no way that the situation could get any worse. It can. There are steps that you can take to keep the situation from getting any worse, steps that could even potentially save lives. Know that you cannot take any of these steps if you don’t remain calm.
Step 2: Stop your vehicle and move to a safe area.
Shift your transmission into park and turn off the engine to ensure that your vehicle is no longer moving.
If it is possible to get out of your car, take a minute to make a plan of where to go. Is there a sidewalk on the side of the road? Is there oncoming traffic you’ll need to watch out for? Make sure it’s safe to get out of the car before you open the car door.
Step 3: Check on the other people involved in the accident.
Make sure that no one is hurt, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Even if they exhibit symptoms that seem minor, like dizziness, advise them to be checked out by a healthcare professional. Here is a chart with the main symptoms of a concussion.
Step 4: Call 911.
If there are serious injuries, immediately call 911. If the accident was minor, the police should still be called to the scene. A traffic accident report will prove invaluable later when you are dealing with your car insurance company and the other drivers. When the police officer arrives, cooperate fully and let the officer objectively judge events and determine who is at fault for the crash.
Know that often when there are no injuries, the police will not come to the scene. If that is the case, you can file an accident report through your state’s DMV. To access the CA DMV’s accident report, click here.
Step 5: Document the scene.
Take photographs of the damage to your car as soon as possible after the accident. If your phone has a camera, make sure you take pictures of your car and the other car(s) involved immediately after the accident. Also, take photos of the other driver’s licence plate, drivers license, and proof of insurance.
Make sure that you exchange information with the other drivers involved. Get their names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, and license plate numbers. If there are any witnesses, get their information as well and ask them what they saw.
Step 6: Call your insurance provider.
It is important to let your insurance company know that you’ve been in an accident. Cooperate with them fully and tell the truth. If they find out that you’ve lied to them about any details, you could jeopardize your claim.
Step 7: Hire an attorney.
You shouldn’t have to go through this alone, and attorneys are here to help. Consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to help you receive the settlement you deserve to cover expensive hospital bills, property damage, missed work days, and compensation. Get a free consultation here.
Have a serious injury and need legal advice? Contact Howard Blau.
“After A Car Accident: First Steps.” FindLaw. Retrieved 30 January 2017, from http://injury.findlaw.com/car-accidents/after-a-car-accident-first-steps.html
“Car accidents: how to handle one in 7 easy steps.” Esurance. Retrieved 30 January 2017, from https://www.esurance.com/info/car/how-to-handle-a-car-accident
“General Statistics.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute. Retrieved 30 Janaury 2017, from http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview/2015
“Living With a Concussion.” Living With a Concussion. Retrieved 30 January 2017, from http://www.livingwithaconcussion.com/symptom-list.html