Car accidents are traumatic. Even a near miss can leave you shaken and out of breath. So having an actual impact, especially one where there are injuries, can be exceptionally jarring. When you’re in a heightened state of frenzy, it’s generally a bad time to make split minute decisions that will impact your future. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do in the event of an accident. The best way to protect yourself, legally and physically, is by being prepared in advance. If you know all of the steps you need to take in order to protect yourself in the unlikely event of an accident, you’ll be able to respond correctly rather than letting adrenaline affect your choices.
The first thing you’ll want to do after an impact is to remain calm. Depending on the severity of the accident, your first thoughts should be to check on the well-being of yourself and any passengers. There are, of course, other considerations you’ll need to address directly after any accident. This list should give you a good overview so that you’re prepared in any event.
Top 10 Steps After You’ve Been in an Accident
1: Don’t Leave the Scene. After having an accident, you might be afraid of the consequences. Because of that fear, you may be tempted to leave the scene. It is best to stay at the scene to report the accident. If the accident involves injury, leaving the scene is a crime.
2: Assess Injuries. Your car might be very important to you but it’s not nearly as important as your own health, the health of your passengers, and even the well-being of the other driver. After calming yourself, check for injuries in your own car and then verify that the other driver is uninjured. Call for aid immediately in the event of any serious injuries.
3: Call the Police. Call the police or verify whether the police have been called by a bystander. Ask that a police report be completed and write down the name of the responding officer. If there are any witnesses to the accident, obtain their names and contact information.
4: Take Pictures of Vehicle Damage and Scene of Accident. Take pictures of the damage to the vehicles and the accident scene with your cell phone. Take video of the scene if possible.
5: Talk to the Other Driver. You will need the other driver’s insurance information. Make sure to write down all pertinent information such as their name, make and model of their car, license plate number, driver’s license number, and identity of their insurance company.
6: Talk to the Police. Once the investigating police officer arrives at the scene, it is important that you give the officer accurate and detailed information. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort at the scene, you should tell the police officer so he can call an ambulance, if necessary. Once the police investigation is complete, get a copy of the police report and retain a copy.
7: Contact Your Insurance Company. Contact your insurance company and report all pertinent information about the accident. Make sure to report any injuries to your insurance company so that they can open a “PIP” claim for payment of the medical bills your insurance company will be responsible for paying.
8: Seek Medical Treatment. Do not decline a medical examination by ambulance personnel if you are experiencing pain or discomfort at the scene of the accident. Many times people will insist that they are fine after an accident, only to find out later that they sustained injuries. It is much more difficult to prove that an injury was caused by an accident if they are not recorded at the time or if you have refused medical treatment.
9: Keep All Records. Keep all records of the accident and any medical treatment together and organized. If you need to consider legal action, your lawyer will appreciate your record keeping as it will help your attorney provide you with a prompt evaluation of your claim.
10: Consider Hiring an Attorney. If you have been injured in an automobile accident and you believe that you are entitled to damages, you should consider hiring an attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can assess your case, inform you of your legal rights, and help you recoup damages that were caused by the accident. At Kirkland, McGhee & Gann, P.A. your consultation is free and we do not get paid unless we recover money on your case.