Did you know that there are over six million car accidents a year in the United States? These accidents range from minor fender-benders to serious collisions, some resulting in injuries and death.
Statistically speaking, it’s quite likely that you’ll be involved in a crash at some point in your life. If this happens, it’s imperative that you know what to do.
The way you handle a car accident will impact everything that happens in the future. This includes legal repercussions, insurance claims, and lawsuits.
We want to make sure you’re prepared. Keep reading to find out what you need to do if you’re involved in an accident.
Regain Your Composure
After experiencing a crash, the last thing you need to do is react emotionally or erratically. No matter what happened or whose fault it was, you need to take a second to compose yourself after an accident. Silently count to 20 while taking deep breaths.
Reacting from a place of anger or hysteria can make things worse. You might say or do something your regret, step out into traffic or do something else that will result in negative consequences.
Check Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
Once you get your head on straight, take a quick moment to check yourself for injuries. Then, assuming you’re not seriously injured, check your passengers to see if they have any injuries (severe or minor).
If anyone involved in a crash is severely injured, it’s not a good idea to try to move them. The only exception is if they will be in immediate or imminent danger by staying in the vehicle.
Get Yourself and Others to Safety
Provided everyone in your vehicle can move on their own accord or can be moved safely, your next step after being involved in a crash is moving everyone to a safe location. This is especially important if the car accident occurred on a busy street or intersection. You must also exercise extreme caution on high-speed roadways.
If you or your passengers remain in or near the car, you may be at risk of getting struck by another vehicle. Once everyone is out of harm’s way, you can decide whether or not it’s appropriate and safe to move the vehicles. However, this is not something to be attempted if doing so puts you at risk.
Once all risk of danger or further injury is mitigated, it’s time to contact emergency services. Call 911 to report the accident.
If there are any major or minor injuries, the dispatcher needs to know immediately. Then, they’ll be able to prepare the emergency responders for what awaits them at the scene.
The dispatcher will stay on the phone with you to collect all the relevant information. Aside from any existing injuries, they’ll also want to know about your location, the number of vehicles involved, etc. If there are any serious injuries, they may hold you on the line until emergency responders arrive.
Exchange Information With the Other Driver
After you notify the authorities of the car accident, you can speak with the other driver to exchange important information. If the other driver is angry, inflammatory, or acting erratically, it might be best to wait for the police to arrive before approaching him or her.
If you can exchange information with the other driver, you need to collect:
- Their name and contact information
- Their insurance policy number and contact information
- Their driver’s license and license plate number
- Basic details of the car (color, make, model, year)
Of course, you’ll need to be prepared to share this information as well. While talking to the driver, however, be careful to avoid topics of fault or responsibility. Even saying something as innocent as “I’m sorry” could convey guilt.
Collect Evidence and Document the Accident
After speaking with the other driver, use your smartphone to document the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the inside and outside of your car and the other driver’s vehicle. You should also photograph skid marks, damaged property, torn-up turf, etc.
It’s also important to write down your recollection of events while they’re fresh in your mind. Use the notepad app on your phone or find a pen and paper.
If there are witnesses who saw the accident, talk to them and document what they saw. Be sure to get their names and contact information as well.
Talk to the Police
By this point, the police and other emergency responders should be arriving shortly. Talk to the police calmly and answer their questions.
Explain exactly what happened, relaying the facts only. Now is not the time to try to plead your case or prove that the other driver was at fault. If they speak to the other driver first, wait patiently for your turn.
Once they are done taking your statement, politely request a copy of their report.
Contact Your Insurance Company and Schedule an Appointment With Your Doctor
Now that the dust has settled, call your insurance company to report the accident. Be sure not to make any official statements or accept any settlements.
Before you agree to anything, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get a full checkup. Even if you don’t notice any obvious injuries, it’s important to get an official exam. Delayed injuries can present symptoms days or even weeks after the car accident.
Getting official medical documentation will be important for your final insurance claim. It will prove vital if you end up pursuing compensation through a lawsuit.
Meet With a Car Accident Attorney
Finally, we recommend hiring an attorney to represent your best interests after being involved in an accident. Reach out immediately for a free case evaluation. This is especially important if your insurance company (or the other driver’s insurance company) is settling low or refusing to honor your claim.
A car accident lawyer can help you gather evidence and build your case. They’ll also help you avoid making any statements or doing anything that could undermine your case.
Have You Been Involved in a Car Accident?
If you’ve recently been involved in a crash, we understand the flurry of emotions you must be experiencing. Try to remain calm and follow the tips listed above to handle your car accident in the best way possible.
And if you’re ready to talk with a car accident lawyer, we’re here for you. Contact us today to get a free consultation. We would love to talk with you about your case and help you decide what to do moving forward.
Cook & Tolley, LLP
304 E Washington St
Athens, GA 30601