Even if you take every step possible to drive carefully and defensively, getting into your car and onto the roads will always put you at risk of being involved in a road traffic accident.
Whether the fault is yours, the other party’s, or inconclusive, being involved in a car accident is usually a very stressful time for everybody. In the immediate aftermath, there may be several questions that arise when it comes to what you should do first. Knowing which tasks to prioritize in the event of a car accident could save your life, or at least make it easier to deal with the situation. We’ve put together a step by step guide to help you make the right decisions should you ever find yourself behind the wheel in a crash.
1) Check for Injuries:
After being involved in a road traffic accident, the first thing that you should do is check yourself over for any injuries. If you are in pain or suspect you may be seriously injured, try not to move – instead, get somebody to call for help if possible. If you can, you should call 911 immediately, or ask somebody else to do so.
2) Check on Others:
If you are not seriously injured and are able to move around, the next step is to check on others at the site. Start with any passengers in your car; make sure that they are OK before moving onto the next step. If any passengers are injured, call 911 as soon as possible and give first aid if you can. If you need to, you might want to ask a bystander or other driver for help.
3) Find a Safe Place:
If your car is still drivable, the next step is to find a safe space to pull over in, particularly if your vehicle is causing a hazard on the road. If you can, move to the side of the road or find a rest area to pull your car into away from moving traffic. It may be possible to push your car to safety but only do this if it’s easy to do so. Otherwise, your main concern should be getting yourself and any passengers to safety – if your car can’t be moved, leave it where it is and move to a safer area.
4) Call the Cops:
Depending on the type of car accident that you’ve been involved in, you may need to report it to law enforcement. In some states, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a minor bump or have been involved in a serious collision, you’re legally required to let the police know if you’ve been in a crash. The officers will visit the scene to document it and fill out an accident report. In some circumstances, you may be able to go to the police station and fill the report out there yourself. You will be given more information about what to do once you call.
5) Warn Other Drivers:
Alerting other drivers to your condition on the road will ensure that they have plenty of time to prepare, helping to prevent further accidents from occurring. If you need to leave your car stationary in the road, turn on your hazards and consider using road flares to alert other drivers and warn them to slow down and pass carefully. If you have a warning triangle in your vehicle, this should also be placed on the road.
6) Exchange Information:
After you’ve ensured that no injuries need immediate treatment and have gotten yourself and any passengers to safety, you’ll need to make sure that you get crucial information from any other drivers involved in the collision. The most important information to get is their full name and contact information, their license plate number, and driver’s license number. For insurance purposes, you should also ask them to provide you with details of their insurance company and policy number. Be sure to make a record of the type, model, and color of vehicle that they drive, and note down the location of the accident.
7) Document the Accident Scene:
To help protect yourself in the future and make it easier for you to win any insurance and/or personal injury claims, it’s important to document the accident scene as well as you can. If possible, take several photographs at various angles to display the amount of damage done to both cars. You may also want to consider taking photographs of the other car’s license plate. Once the police arrive at the scene, speak to the responding officers and get their names and badge numbers. They may also be able to provide you with a copy of their official accident report. Make sure that you have details for everybody involved in the accident, including any passengers in the other vehicles. Lastly, speak to pedestrians and other drivers to find anybody who witnessed the collision and take their details.
8) Notify Your Insurance Company:
Once you’ve dealt with the immediate aftermath of the scene, it’s time to get in touch with your auto insurance company and let them know that you’ve been in an accident. You may want to give them a call whilst you are still at the scene; this way they will be able to provide you with advice on the next best steps to take for your specific situation. To start the claims process, you’ll need to provide your insurance company with any evidence that you have, including any photos taken of the collision and details of passengers, witnesses, and police officers at the scene.
9) Consider a Personal Injury Claim:
Lastly, if you were seriously injured as a result of the car accident, you may want to try and file a personal injury claim. For example, if an accident left you with high medical bills, the need to take time off work, or stopped you from driving for a while, you may be entitled to further compensation. Call Jacoby and Meyers today for more information.
A car accident can leave even the most experienced of drivers feeling stressed and scared but following these steps may help you to avoid unnecessary worries at the scene.