Even if you’re the best driver you know, there’s no guarantee you won’t be involved in a car accident at some point. No one plans for it, but in the event it happens, it’s always best to be prepared. If you get into a crash, it’s paramount that you keep your cool. There’s no reason to make the situation any more stressful than it already is; if you’re calm, you’ll better remember these six steps.
Steps To Take After A Car Accident
1. Stop Your Vehicle
After a crash a person feels guilty, anger, shock, fear, nervousness all emotional things. And All of this is natural. But at that moment stay calm is very important. So take some deep breaths or count 10 to keep calm. The fast you calmer the better you can handle the situation. Immediately turn off your vehicle’s engine if this is possible, to avoid any further damage that could result from the engine continuing to run. It’s important that the vehicle remains in the same location where the impact took place, but that doesn’t mean leave it in the middle of the road and endanger yourself and others. If you can, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic, such as onto the shoulder of a highway or onto a grassy median. Avoid moving it far from the scene of the accident until after the police have arrived and gathered the information they need for their report.
2. Call The Police
It doesn’t matter how small a crash you’re dealing with: call your local emergency number — that’s 911 in the US — and do it as soon as you’ve stopped your vehicle and checked yourself, your passengers, and the other party for injuries. Police and rescue crews will be able to assist with any serious injuries or immediate life-threatening complications of the vehicle impact. The presence of law enforcement and other emergency services will also discourage any rash actions, such as a heated exchange between yourself and the other party which has the potential to turn violent.
But there’s another important reason to call the police, and that’s the establishment of a police report. A police report will serve as the official, legal record of what transpired between your vehicle and the other party’s vehicle going forward. It will be essential in filling out a thorough insurance claim and setting the stage in the event you find yourself in court.
3. Take Photos
Take pictures of everything. If you suspect the other party may flee before the police arrive, or before you even have the opportunity to call the police, make sure you snap a picture of their license plate. If there’s one thing you should photograph, it’s that; there are hundreds of thousands of hit-and-runs every year in the US, so don’t assume whoever hit you is going to stick around.
Once you’re out of the car and out of harm’s way, get as many pictures of the damage to both vehicles as you can. Make sure to take pictures from multiple angles, leaving no room for doubting the amount or type of damage done. If you can, get photographic proof of both vehicles being in the same place. If there are visible injuries, make sure you document them. There is no such thing as too many pictures. If you have a passenger with you, have them use their phone for video recording. If they have enough battery life, ask them to record the duration of the experience on video, up until the police have arrived.
4. Gather Information
Ideally, the other party involved in the crash should be a fully insured driver able to provide proof of insurance for motor vehicle operation. After the dust has settled and you’ve made sure everyone is alright, kindly request to see proof of insurance and offer to show yours as well. Avoid aggression or expressions of frustration; keep things calm, collected, and civil, and don’t be too assertive if there’s no need to be. Unless it’s a road rage incident or other hostile crash scenarios, assume the other person wants to get things over with as neatly and with as little stress as possible. Make sure insurance information is recorded properly. The best way to do this, of course, is by taking a picture.
5. Find Witnesses
In a serious crash situation where you expect you might run into difficulties dealing with the other party, or if the other party insists they aren’t culpable for the crash when you believe they clearly were, try to find witnesses. In many cases, those driving near you when the impact occurs will voluntarily pull over to check for everyone’s safety, call emergency services, or offer whatever support they can. Pedestrians, or anyone watching from nearby homes or places of business, are also likely to approach, even just out of curiosity. If you think the situation calls for it, ask someone to hang out until the police arrive, so they can help corroborate events and determine, for the police report, who is responsible for the crash.
If you’re familiar with the area where the crash took place, and you find yourself in a legal situation that calls for it, you may be able to find witnesses after the fact. However, this can be very difficult, so it’s always best to at least collect contact information from witnesses while you’re still at the scene.
6. Contact A Lawyer
In the case of serious bodily injury, it’s always prudent to contact a lawyer. Emergency services will evaluate you on the spot and treat you for injuries, but sometimes your injuries won’t be felt immediately. Seek an evaluation from a medical professional as soon as you can, and supply your lawyer with your medical results. It’s imperative you complete this step sooner rather than later.
Even if there are no serious injuries sustained, hiring a lawyer is generally a good choice when dealing with stubborn insurance companies in order to get the best payout possible. Auto accident lawyers will have experience talking to insurers and will know how to guarantee you are treated fairly.