Did you know that despite fewer drivers, traffic accidents are actually going up? With more danger on the roads, it is important that you protect yourself and your passengers. If you know what to do, you can safeguard yourself both physically and financially.
Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to think straight. Get prepared with our guide on the steps to take after a car accident.
Check Your Injuries
Firstly, check the extent of your injuries. You may not always feel pain right away as adrenaline kicks in. Check from the head downwards to see if you are wounded.
Once you have done this, turn off the engine if it is still running. This prevents any further accidents, such as fire or the inhalation of fuel emissions. If you are alone, move away from the vehicle.
If you have passengers with you in the vehicle, then assist them after caring for yourself. Children should be the first port of call. If they are crying and able to move, then remove them from the vehicle to a safe area.
If someone is unconscious or unable to move, you should leave them where they are unless they are at serious risk. This may be if structures could collapse, or fuel from the engine may ignite.
Be aware that both you and your passengers may go into shock. Try to stay warm, wrapping in blankets and jackets if they are available.
Call Emergency Services
Even in the smallest of accidents, you should call the police. This covers you legally for any problems that may occur. If the other party tries to avoid getting the police involved, then you should be very wary and make sure that you do not comply.
If you have injured parties, then call an ambulance. However, the emergency services you have contacted may already do this for you.
Wait In a Safe Area
If the vehicle is still able to be moved, try to get it out of the way of traffic. Move it to the side of the road or on the grass verge. This makes sure it does not get hit by secondary vehicles.
If you have any safety equipment such as cones or reflective triangles set them up. This can divert traffic, letting them know an accident has taken place. You should then wait for the emergency services.
Your next step is to exchange information with the other driver. This usually only requires the exchange of name and insurance information. However, depending on state laws this may vary.
To cover you, you may want to get a few other pieces of information. Their telephone number is helpful if they are willing to give it.
Documenting the Accident
Documenting auto accidents is not easy. Confusion and personal injury can cloud judgment and some information is impossible to retrieve. If you are able to get as much information as possible, then do, but if not it should be dealt with by the police.
The police report number is the first piece of information you will need to document the accident. This will be a requirement for the insurance company and car accident attorney. While you will be unlikely to be able to tell an officer how to do their job, you may want to encourage witness statements and testimony about the crash to be included.
If this is not possible then gather witness information independently. Witnesses may be willing to provide contact details to back up the version of events.
Photograph the Accident
Photographing the accident is not always possible with so many other elements at play. However, it does give you a solid record of what occurred and will work as backup evidence.
Start by taking pictures of damage caused to vehicles and property. You should then photograph the area. This should include any roads and slipways from which the vehicles were traveling, along with any corners or junctions.
Notify a Car Accident Lawyer
The next step is to file a claim. If you caused the accident and the damage is minor, you may be tempted to pay for it yourself. However, this can often turn out to be a lot more than you expect.
Even if the car crash was caused by someone else, you may still have to pay. Your insurance might have a deductible which will be refunded by the other parties’ insurance company once the claim is paid.
If the other person was at fault, it is down to their insurance company to decide this. This is where you need a strong car accident lawyer to get you the best claim possible.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident In No-Fault States
Some states operate as no-fault states. This means that a driver’s insurance covers themselves in the event of damage, as opposed to reimbursing other parties. In a no-fault state, your own PIP will cover damage to you, anyone in the car with you, and the vehicle.
Note that you may still have the right to sue for serious injuries at a later date. This means that you may still require legal car accident help even in no-fault states.
Now you know the immediate steps to take after a car accident, you can look at the long term. Try to return to work as soon as possible, but take it easy and take time off if you need to do so. It helps if you can return to driving as soon as possible, so apprehension does not set in.
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