With approximately six million car accidents in the US every single year, every driver has to acknowledge and accept that even if they follow the rules and do their best to stay safe, they still have quite a reasonable chance of ending up in some kind of accident at some stage of their lives.
This is, unfortunately, the reality faced by many Americans today. A lot of people drive sensibly, sticking to speed limits, using their turn signals, and never driving under the influence, but can still fall victim to the reckless or negligent actions of others.
There are a lot of dangerous drivers out there, and this is why, even if you hope and expect to never be in an accident yourself, you need to know what to do and how to act if an accident does occur.
In this kind of situation, a lot of people feel unprepared and start to panic, making mistakes or forgetting the simplest of things, only to pay the price later on when legal battles begin and medical bills start racking up. Let’s take a closer look at the key steps to follow in the wake of an auto accident.
First, we’ll focus on what to do right after an accident occurs. The first thing to do, of course, is to check yourself and any passengers in your vehicle for injuries. If anyone is seriously hurt, they should remain where they are and wait for emergency service workers to arrive on the scene and take the necessary action. Common accident injuries like whiplash can be made a lot worse if you don’t know what you’re doing and try moving around too much.
If your injuries are minor or not apparent right away and you’re able to get out of the vehicle, you should do so. You may even be able to move the vehicle over to the side of the road if it’s blocking the flow of traffic, before getting yourself and your passengers a safe distance from the scene. Next, the police should be called to report the incident, and then it’s time to start documenting the accident.
This is one of the most overlooked and easily forgotten parts of the process after an accident occurs, but it’s also one of the most important, so it’s absolutely vital to try and remember to document as much as you can. This means using a camera or the camera on your phone to take some photos of the accident site, including getting some snaps of your vehicle.
Take photos of any visible damage to the vehicles involved in the accident, as well as general views of the scene, plus any photos of yourself and your passengers and any injuries you may have, provided it’s safe to do so. The more you document, the more evidence you’ll have later on when insurance adjusters and legal teams make attempts to try and reduce the value of your claim or suggest that you are exaggerating the extent of the accident.
This is also a good opportunity to chat with any witnesses or passers-by who might have seen what happened and ask them to give a statement to the police. You’ll also need to speak with the other driver at some point and collect their details, including their name, contact information, license plate number, and insurance details too.
Next, you’ll need to make some calls and inform some people about the accident. This should include your own insurance provider, letting them know some information about the nature of the accident and any injuries sustained, as well as a car accident lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action to follow in the days and weeks ahead.
The legal battles that can result after a car accident can be quite complicated and many insurance adjusters will do anything they can to try and devalue your claim or catch you out, but an experienced legal professional will be able to guide you through the process. This is also the best time to get yourself to a hospital or doctor’s office for a check-up, even if you don’t notice any pain or obvious injuries right away.
Car accidents can be very stressful situations, and even if your injuries seem minor, they might get worse over time, and your mental health may be affected by the incident too. Don’t suffer in silence; get in touch with an experienced, trusted attorney, and get the best possible outcome.