I Was in an Accident, Now What?: 7 Wise Steps Just After a Car Accident
In less than 5 seconds your life can change forever.
One moment you’re happily driving your car down the road, when out of nowhere–BAM! A car strikes you from behind and you’re shoved into your steering wheel. The windshield shatters, covering you in glass, while the airbag suddenly explodes. Still, in shock, you realize, “I was in an accident, now what?”
Car accidents claimed over 40,000 lives in 2016 and 2017. On top of all the lives lost, there were also millions of injuries. Approximately 4.57 million people became seriously injured after a car accident in 2017 alone.
You can’t predict car accidents but you can prepare for them. Read on to find out what you should do immediately after any type of car accident.
1. I Was in an Accident, What’s Next?
Immediately after realizing, “I was in a car accident”, you’ll want to take action. You’ll probably have all sorts of thoughts running through your mind. Thoughts like, “who is going to pay for this?” or “what do I do now?”. Remember, to stay as calm as possible so you can maintain a clear level of thinking.
First, check yourself for any types of injuries. While you’re still in the car do a full-body scan starting with your feet. Start by wiggling your toes, then rotating your ankles. Next, gently touch your legs and arms to feel for any major cuts or areas of pain.
If you have a mirror available, look at your face to make sure it’s clear of any glass, cuts, or injuries. After you check yourself, assess your passengers for injuries. Certain injuries, like whiplash, won’t present themselves until later down the road. For now, just focus on any major areas of pain or lacerations. If it is painful to move you should stay still until the paramedics arrive.
2. Get to Safety
After checking yourself and passengers for injuries, you need to secure your safety.
Ask yourself these 2 questions when trying to get to safety:
- Are there injuries?
- Does my car run?
If there aren’t any injuries and the car is drivable, police prefer you to move your car off the road. If your car isn’t drivable then you don’t have any choice but to let it sit where it is. Don’t try to fix your car or make any type of repairs.
After moving, or not moving your car, you can decide if it’s safe to leave the vehicle. If you’re on a highway or busy street you might need to stay inside the vehicle until the police arrive.
3. Call the Police
Have you ever had to call 911 before? A lot of people are afraid to call 911 because they aren’t sure if a car accident constitutes an emergency. You should call 911 anytime you need immediate help or action taken. Even if you aren’t hurt, you still need immediate police attention at the scene of the accident.
Start the call to 911 before you exit your vehicle. The driver in the other vehicle may be emotional about the accident, whether it’s their fault or not. If the other driver is mad or begins to yell it’s helpful to know the police are already on their way.
Never engage in any type of argument or discussion about the fault of the accident with the other vehicle. Instead, if you do speak to the people in the other car, ask them if they have any injuries. If they do have injuries you can let the 911 dispatcher know while you’re still on the line.
Unfortunately, sometimes the other driver flees the scene of the accident. If you’re involved in a hit and run accident you should still follow all of the same steps. Let the 911 dispatcher know the other vehicle left the scene. Then provide them with any details about the other vehicle that you remember.
4. Get the Right Information
Getting the right information will help you when it’s time to file your claim. Start by documenting the accident with photographs. Make sure you maintain your safety and stay aware of your surroundings when documenting the accident.
Here’s a list of everything you should take a photo of:
- Multiple views of the street your own
- The position of vehicles on the road
- Damage to your vehicle
- Damage to another vehicle
After taking your photographs you can start to gather your paper documents. You’ll need to get the insurance information from the other driver. You should also provide your insurance information to them.
Next, get the number for the police report from the officer who responds to your accident. The police report can be a useful tool in helping prove that the other driver was at fault. For example, if the other driver admits to texting while driving, the cop will include that in their report. Having evidence of their failure to pay attention while driving could help you receive a tremendous court settlement.
5. How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Claim?
Once you leave the scene of the accident you can place a call to your insurance company. When you call your insurance company they’re going to want to know the details of the accident. They will ask you questions to determine the fault of the accident.
Prepare yourself to answer questions like:
- What side of the road were you driving on
- How fast were you going
- Were you driving in an area you were familiar with
- Who was with you in the car
- Are you hurt
- What’s the damage to your vehicle
After gathering all of the information, the insurance company will give you a claim number. It’ll take a little while for the insurance company to determine who is at fault.
Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Now you might be wondering, “I was in an accident, do I need a lawyer now?”. Whenever you’re hurt in a car accident you should call a car accident attorney. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big accident with major injuries or a small fender bender.
Having an experienced accident attorney can help protect you and your future. You need someone who knows your rights and will fight for what’s in your best interest. The attorneys at Trapp & Geller have helped recover millions of dollars for their clients for over 30 years.
Let us fight for what’s yours. We would love to speak with you about the details of your case. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.