You can’t always prevent a car accident. However, you can prepare for what to do if you have one. In 2016 44,207 people were injured or killed in car accidents. Knowing what to do after an accident can help you stay safe, get the help you need, and possibly avoid legal problems.
Never leave the scene of a car accident. You must stop somewhere near the site of the accident. If you are on a dangerous highway with no shoulder, and you are still able to drive your car, carefully drive your car to the next exit and stop at the safest place possible. If there is no shoulder and you can’t drive, stay in the car, and wait for a police officer.
Make Yourself As Safe As Possible
If it is dark and you have flares now is the time to use them. If your hazard lights are working, keep them on. Stay in your car until a police officer arrives at the scene. Call the police if they haven’t shown up.
Create an Accurate Record of the Accident
Give the police an accurate report of what happened. If there are details you don’t know, just say so, but don’t embellish or give facts that you don’t know. Any misstated facts can become a problem for you down the road.
You can use the camera on your phone to take photos. Take photos of the scene of the accident if it is safe to do so. You can take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle, and details of the surroundings that could be relevant. Don’t interfere with the police officer’s investigation.
You can also take photos of any injuries you may have. You can take photos immediately after an accident and then later. Some bruises may get larger and darker with time. When you take photos of a bruise, hold up a quarter to the injury to get an accurate perspective of the size.
Exchange Information With the Other Driver
If a police officer shows up, the officer will take down both parties’ contact and insurance information. If law enforcement never shows up, you can ask for the other driver for this info. If you feel a police presence is necessary, then call them.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies require that you report a car accident as soon as possible. You can get useful information from them at that time, such as what medical expenses will be covered, and how to proceed with car repairs.
Seek Medical Attention
You may not feel the worst pain from an injury immediately after the accident. This can lead you to underestimate how badly you are hurt. It is always safest to get to a doctor or hospital right away to get a proper diagnosis of your injuries. Medical professionals can start medical care as needed and tell you what symptoms to watch out for.
Save Important Records
You will want to obtain a copy of the police report. Get contact information of any witnesses at the scene. Start a log of your medical care and treatment. You can also write down any pain and symptoms and keep track of how long they lasted.
Contact an Attorney
Contact an attorney as soon as possible. They can guide you about what to do and what not to do after an accident. Sometimes crucial mistakes are made immediately after an accident.
Being guided by an attorney early on can help you prepare and organize so that you have a favorable outcome if you choose to file a lawsuit or need to protect yourself from one.