After you get yourself out of a car in an accident, you may need to take a few minutes to understand what is going on around you. All the chaos caused by the accident will confuse you, but it is essential to calm down and think logically. What you do or say after a car accident can have major future effects on your life whether legally, financially, or medical-wise. If you are unsure about what to do after a car accident, keep this course of action as a reference to ensure that you keep everyone safe and get compensation if you are not at fault.
Make Sure Everyone is Safe (Including You)
You will feel disoriented after a car accident, and that’s normal. Take a few moments to recollect your thoughts and check yourself for any injuries. If you can move, check other drivers and passengers for injuries, and if anyone is severely injured, call 911. If you are seriously injured, don’t move and call for an emergency or ask someone to call them if you can’t.
Get to Safety
In case you don’t have severe injuries, move to the side of the road and wait for the police and emergency to arrive. If your car can move and can cause road hazards, move your vehicle to the side of the road as well. Turn your hazard lights on to warn other drivers of the accident if the car is too damaged to move.
Call the Police
No matter how major or minor the accident is, you have to call the police right after ensuring that everyone is safe. In most states, including California, it is legally required to call the police in the case of an accident. The responding officers will compile a report on the accident including facts and details that may come in your favor if you decided to take legal action in the future.
Gather Information and Facts
From the moment the accident happens until the police have finished writing their report, all you need to do is gather any information related to the accident. Any useful information will determine liability and strengthen your claim for compensation. You should gather some information about the other driver such as:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance company name
- Insurance policy number
- Their vehicle make, model, and year
Take as many pictures as you can of the accident scene, look for skid marks, broken glass, the cars’ condition, or any interesting detail you can find. Avoid any small talk during this time or expressing your opinion on what happened or whose fault it is, as a simple “I’m sorry” will be used against you as admitting guilt.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you can move normally after an accident, some injuries stay dormant for a while before surfacing. It is of the utmost importance to seek medical attention after a car accident for various reasons. If you are severely injured, you need medical staff to tend to these injuries to save your life or stop them from getting worse. Dormant injuries can be discovered in their early stages if you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Additionally, if you ignored going to the hospital right after the accident, the other party may claim that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident or they are not as severe as you claim them to be. Most importantly, any receipts or medical documents are necessary as evidence of the injuries and your medical expenses.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Calling your insurance company is essential to report the accident. It is a good idea to call them when the accident happens so that the company can send an insurance adjuster to assess the situation and gather important information from the police officer. Reporting the accident to your insurer as soon as possible will give them enough time to prepare your claim.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
An experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure that you get the compensation that will cover your medical expenses, missed wages, and any other expenses you had to pay because of the accident. You may opt for representing yourself, but an attorney has more experience and can make better judgments that will be in your favor.
Car accident claims can either get quickly settled or they can take years in court, your attorney will advise on the right course of action to be taken. Applying these points after a car accident will ensure that you and others are safe while gathering evidence to support your claim.