It’s that moment that every driver dreads, the moment when you realize you have been involved in an accident. Whether it is your first car crash or not being involved in an accident is a deeply upsetting experience. Even if you know you are not at fault it is important to protect yourself, your property and your rights following the crash.
There are some very specific steps all drivers should take following an auto accident. Remembering to take these steps can be difficult especially when emotions are running high. Just keep this list in your glove box or purse, taking the correct steps will weigh heavily on determining your desired outcome.
Document the Scene
The first thing you should do after an auto accident is make sure that no one is hurt. Check for your own injuries and make sure your passengers are safe. After that be sure to ask the other driver and their passengers if they need medical attention. If they do, your next call should be to the medical authorities or 911 if the injuries are life threatening.
Assuming everyone is unhurt, your next step should be to document the scene. Take pictures of everything, including the positions of the vehicles involved. Make sure to document the specific damage each car has sustained. Take close-up pictures to focus in on the damage, and longer range shots to show the parts of each car that have been damaged.
Also take pictures of the surrounding area, including any road signs, speed limits signs, natural hazards, weather conditions…etc. Things like ice, snow and rain can change road conditions dramatically and increase the odds of a crash.
You and the other driver will want to exchange insurance information and contact your respective insurance companies. Be sure to record the full name of the driver and any passengers, as well as the name of the insurance company and the policy number. You will want to contact your own insurance company as soon as possible to get the claim started. Depending on the severity of the accident, you will need to contact your local personal injury lawyer, for sound council on the next steps you will need to take.
You will need the name of the other driver, the policy number and name of the insurance company and any other pertinent information that my help your claim. Be sure to include all images you took at the scene of the accident, they will be very important when recreating the accident scene and determining who was at fault.
After you have filed a claim with your insurance company, make an appointment to see your doctor. Even if you do not think you have been injured, seeing a doctor right away will help protect your rights. A thorough exam by your personal doctor or the local emergency room is one of the smartest things you can do after an auto accident.
No one wants to be involved in an auto accident, but knowing what steps to take post-crash can make the aftermath easier and less stressful. Hopefully you will never need this information, but keep in handy just in case.