Being involved in a car accident activates your fear response or “fight or flight” mechanism. Your system becomes flooded with adrenaline and a number of other neurochemicals, which can make it difficult to think clearly or process what had just happened. There are a number of very important things that need to happen, however, so you may want to print out this list of what to do after an accident and keep it somewhere handy.
Here are five things you need to do after being involved in a car accident.
1. Assess the damage
If you or the other driver has passengers, the first thing you will want to do is to ensure everyone is okay. If the accident was minor but happened in the middle of a busy roadway and you can safely move to the side of the road, it is important to do so. If it is a serious accident, however, particularly when injuries are involved, it is best to leave the cars where they are if possible until police and other emergency personnel arrive on the scene. It is also important to not try and move any injured individuals if possible. Even if you don’t think you are injured, if the accident is more than a small fender-bender, you may consider getting yourself and any passengers checked out.
2. Call the police or emergency personnel if appropriate
In some states, it is not necessary to call the police for minor accidents, but if there are any injuries involved, you may want to do so even if they don’t need emergency medical attention. You will also want to try and determine if the other driver is impaired in any way. If you feel that they are, you will also want to call the police, no matter how minor the accident may have been. Auto accidents are also regularly staged as a part of insurance scams, so if anything seems strange or amiss about the accident, it is always better to call the police if you have any doubts.
3. Take pictures and video
As soon as you determine that everyone is safe and vehicles have been moved to a safe location if possible, you want to thoroughly document everything as well as possible. This includes taking photos of any damage to your own car, any damage to the other vehicle as well as photos of any contributing events or elements. For instance, if a tree branch is hanging in front of a stop sign or if bright sunlight prevented you from seeing another car, you want to try and document those conditions as well as possible. It is always better to have too many pictures than not enough, so photograph everything thoroughly.
4. Exchange insurance information and get a police report
You will want to try and get photographs before exchanging insurance information because the other driver may simply drive off once the information is exchanged. If you called the police, you will also want to make arrangements to get a copy of the police report. This may take a few days, but you will want to ensure you have a copy of it for your records.
5. Call your insurance company and potentially an attorney
Even if you are not at fault, you will still want to notify your insurance company. In some cases, the other driver’s coverage limits may not be high enough to cover the damage or they may have let their policy lapse. The sooner you get your own insurance company in the loop, the more likely you will be receiving full financial compensation for the accident. After being involved in an accident, what happens next is highly important. If there are any injuries, medical billing can significantly complicate the paying of claims, which means you will want to be sure you contact an attorney that can walk you through the entire process from the start. Getting fully compensated for an accident can be extremely complicated, so make sure you are fully prepared and protected by consulting an attorney.
In the wake of an accident, you will most likely feel a little foggy or fuzzy and it can be difficult to take decisive action. Keeping a checklist on hand can help you know what to do so you cover all of your most important bases. Getting fully compensated for an accident is hugely dependent on taking appropriate action immediately following the accident. Make sure you aren’t kicking yourself somewhere down the road for what you didn’t do at the time.