Being in a car accident, no matter how minor, is scary. But not knowing what to do if you get into an accident can be even scarier. Here’s a brief guide that can help you handle this sometimes sadly unavoidable situation better:
Your Top Priorities at the Scene
Your first goal at the scene should be to make sure everyone is safe and call 911 if anyone is injured. Start by assessing your own injuries; you’ll be better equipped to help others once you’re in a good position yourself. Then take stock of your own passengers before moving on to anyone in other vehicles. If the cars are badly damaged (and especially if you smell fuel), you should move everyone a distance away from the vehicles in case of fire or explosion. If anyone has back or neck injuries, try not to disturb them until emergency medical services arrive.
The Information to Take Down
If no one has been badly hurt, then your next move should be to start taking down some basic information. You and the other driver should trade names and insurance information, of course (both insurance company names and policy numbers). But you shouldn’t stop there; write down the makes, models, and license plate numbers of any cars involved, as well as the names and contact information of any passengers or witnesses. Also write down the sequence of events as soon as you can — directions, speeds, road conditions, etc. — because your memory can fade or become confused over time. And finally, snap photos of the damage and surrounding scene. If you’re worried you’ll forget to take down some important information, you can download a checklist online and keep it in your glove compartment along with a pen and disposable camera.
Who to Turn to After a Car Accident
Knowing who to turn to after a car accident can make all the difference. Who do you call after a car accident? Unless the accident was so minor that no one was hurt and there was no damage to either car, then the first answer to that question should be the police. This is important because any sort of insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit will use the official police report as a key piece of evidence. You can also call your insurance agent or lawyer, if you work with one regularly, or a family member or friend if you’re shaken and need someone to guide you. Keep in mind that while you don’t necessarily need to deal with insurance agents or auto accident injury attorneys immediately, you probably have a limited amount of time to file a claim or take legal action — so you don’t want to wait for too long.
Do you have any other recommendations for who to turn to after a car accident? Join the discussion below.