Car accidents can be overwhelming and disorienting experiences. Knowing the right steps to take after an accident is crucial for ensuring the safety of everyone involved and protecting your legal rights. In this article, we will guide you through the essential steps to follow if you find yourself in a car accident.
As a licensed insurance agent, my clients often ask me about what to do in the case of an accident. It is important that you know the proper actions to take in the aftermath of an accident to ensure your personal and legal safety.
In this article, we will provide helpful tips and advice on what steps you should take after an accident.
Table of contents
Remain Calm and Assess the Car Accident Situation
- Stay calm, even if the situation is overwhelming or frightening.
- Check for potential hazards and move your car to a safer location if possible.
- Assess the well-being of passengers or pedestrians and call for medical assistance if necessary.
After a car accident, remain calm. Car accidents can be overwhelming and frightening, so staying calm can be difficult–especially if you have sustained injuries or are in shock–but it’s necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
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Take Deep Breaths And Clear Your Mind
After an accident, your adrenaline will take over, but it’s important to stay calm to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Here are a few steps I recommend you take, based on my experience in the insurance field:
- If you can do so safely, assess the situation and look for potential hazards. If your car is blocking traffic or is in a dangerous location, try to move it to a safer spot.
- Check the well-being of passengers or pedestrians involved in the accident and call for medical assistance if necessary.
- If you cannot move your car or have serious injuries, it’s important to stay put and wait for emergency services to arrive.
- Make sure to turn on your hazard lights and set up any reflective triangles or road flares if you have them to warn other drivers of the accident.
Pro Tip: Don’t admit fault or apologize to the other driver. These actions could be used against you later on. Let the authorities and insurance companies determine what happened.
Call For Help After a Car Accident
After you’ve assessed the situation, you need to call for help. Here are the steps I advise you to take, based on my experience in the insurance field:
Call An Emergency Number
- Dial 911 or your local emergency number to request an ambulance.
- Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention after a car accident.
- Shock and adrenaline can mask the severity of injuries, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Provide Information To The 911 Operator
Listen carefully to the emergency operator and clearly answer their questions. They will guide the conversation, so be sure to remain calm, and provide them with the information needed.
As an insurance broker, here is what I recommend you do:
- If you can do so safely, try to provide the operator with as much information as possible, including your location, the number of people involved, and any visible injuries.
- If you cannot speak, try to signal to the operator by honking your horn or flashing your headlights.
- If you cannot call for help, try to signal for assistance by waving your arms or using a flashlight or reflector if you have them. Remember to stay put and wait for help to arrive.
Call The Police
Throughout my experience as a licensed insurance broker, I’ve found that stories frequently change or become inconsistent a few days after the accident. As such, I always recommend that my clients call the police when in a car accident. This ensures that a police report will be filed, which is official evidence that will be referred to later.
Below is a list of reasons why it is a good idea to call the police in the event of an accident, based on my professional experience in the insurance field:
- It’s a good idea to call the police, even if the accident is minor and no one is injured.
- A police report can be helpful in the event of an insurance claim or if there is any dispute about the circumstances of the accident.
- The police will also be able to direct traffic and help to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Exchange Information with Other Drivers
After an accident, you should exchange information with the other drivers involved. As a licensed insurance broker, I cannot stress this tip enough!
This Information Includes:
- Contact Information
- Insurance Information
- Make And Model Of Their Vehicle
- License Plate Number
Pro Tip: Witnesses can provide valuable information about what happened and may be able to testify on your behalf if there is a dispute about the circumstances of the accident.
If the other driver is uncooperative or seems impaired, it’s essential to get as much information as possible and contact the police. Please never confront the other driver or engage in an argument. Remember to stay calm and defuse the situation as much as possible.
Take photos of the accident scene, including any vehicle damage and visible injuries. These photos can help document the accident and can be helpful in the event of an insurance claim.
Document The Accident
You should always document the accident. Doing so helps protect your rights and ensures that you will be fairly compensated when an insurance claim is filed. As a licensed insurance broker, here is how I recommend you document the accident:
- As mentioned earlier, taking pictures of the accident scene is a good idea, including any vehicle damage and visible injuries.
- Make sure to take photos from different angles and close-ups of any damage. It’s also a good idea to take photos of the surrounding area, including any skid marks or debris.
Write Down The Details
- Try to make a written record of the accident as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in your mind.
- Include the time and location of the accident, the weather and road conditions, and a description of what happened.
- Make sure to include any observations you made about the other driver, such as their behavior or any signs of impairment.
Get A Copy of The Police Report
- If you called the police after the accident, get a copy of the police report.
- This can be helpful in the event of an insurance claim or if there is a dispute about the circumstances of the accident.
Pro Tip: Police reports take a few weeks to process. Be patient and call the local precinct where the accident occurred every few days to ask for a copy of the police report.
Keep All Documents And Receipts Related To The Accident
- This includes any medical bills, repair receipts, and other documents related to the accident.
- These can be useful in the event of an insurance claim.
- By documenting the accident thoroughly, you can ensure you have all the information you need to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Your Insurance Company
- After a car accident, you must contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident.
- Most insurance policies require you to write an accident within a specific timeframe, usually within 24 hours or less.
Provide The Insurance Company With This Information
- Your policy number
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- A description of what happened
- The names and contact information of any other drivers involved
- The make and model of the other vehicle(s) involved.
- The terms and contact information of any witnesses
- Any injuries or damages sustained.
Be honest and accurate when reporting the accident to your insurance company. Providing false or misleading information could jeopardize your claim and may even result in your policy being canceled.
Pro Tip: If the other driver were at fault, you would likely need to file a claim with their insurance company. Your insurance company can help you with this process and guide your next steps.
Also, it’s a good idea to keep a record of all communication with your insurance company, including the date and time of your call, the name of the person you spoke with, and a conversation summary.
Seek Legal Counsel
You might consider seeking legal counsel if you were involved in a severe car accident or cannot obtain the compensation you believe you are owed. A personal injury attorney can advocate for your rights and help you navigate the legal processes, and remember–they are required to have your best interest in mind!
- Consider hiring a personal injury attorney if you were severely injured or cannot obtain proper compensation.
- Research and choose an experienced attorney who specializes in car accident cases.
- Schedule a consultation to discuss your case and potential options.
Pro Tip: If you have car insurance, then your car insurance carrier will appoint an “in-house” lawyer to represent you. In these scenarios, the insurance car company carries the lawyer’s cost, saving you time and money!
Here are a few easy-to-follow steps when choosing a lawyer to represent you:
- When choosing an attorney, it’s essential to research and choose someone with experience handling car accident cases. You can ask for recommendations from friends and family or use online resources to find attorneys in your area.
- Schedule a consultation with a few different attorneys to understand their experience and approach. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, so you can understand your options without committing to anything.
- Be prepared to provide them with all the documentation you have related to the accident, including photos, the police report, and any medical bills or receipts for repairs. The attorney will review your case and provide you with an assessment of your options.
- Hiring an attorney can be expensive, and you may be responsible for paying their fees regardless of the outcome of your case. However, an experienced attorney can be valuable in helping you get the compensation you deserve.
After a car accident, there are specific steps that you should take to ensure the personal and legal safety of everyone involved. This includes staying calm, seeking medical attention, exchanging information, documenting the accident, and contacting their insurance company. If you are severely injured, or cannot get proper compensation, consider hiring a personal injury attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to admit fault after a car accident?
No. You do not have to admit fault after an accident. Instead, let the authorities and insurance companies determine what happened and who is responsible.
Do I have to call the police after a car accident?
You should call the police after an accident. The police help ensure the safety of everyone involved and can create legal documentation of the accident (a police report) that can be useful for insurance claims, or disputes over the accident.
What if the other driver doesn’t want to exchange information?
If the other driver involved is difficult or unwilling to exchange information with you, get as much information as possible and contact the police.