Car Accident? Learn the Steps You Should Take Right After
Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents can happen. With almost 280 million vehicles in operation in America, car accidents have become more common. While not every collision is a serious one, it’s essential to know the steps that you should take if you’re involved in an accident.
Here are seven steps you should take if you are involved in a vehicle collision.
1. Remaining Calm and Staying at the Scene
Everyone reacts to a car accident differently, especially if the collision is serious. Some victims of an accident panic, while others find it easier to keep a clear head. When involved in a motor vehicle accident, you must remain as calm as possible.
If your vehicle is in a safe place, keep your car where it is. If you are not in a safe location, such as in the middle of a highway, move your vehicle (if you can do so safely) to avoid any further collision with other cars.
Whatever you do – do not leave the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident is known as a hit and run, and you could face severe consequences for doing so.
2. Checking Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
It’s essential to take the time to check yourself and any passengers you have for any visible injuries. If someone is seriously injured, they should not move until help arrives, if possible. Moving while injured could worsen the injuries, especially if you do not know the exact injuries a person may have suffered.
3. Knowing When to Call 911
You should call 911 in any significant motor vehicle accident that you’re involved in, even if no one is injured. Some injuries may not be apparent, and the injured person may not feel them initially if they are in a state of shock or otherwise impaired.
You may be able to avoid calling 911 in the event of minor fender benders; however, know your state and local laws. Some areas require residents to call 911 in the event of an accident, regardless of its severity.
4. Checking on the Other Driver and Exchanging Information
If you can safely check on the other driver and their passengers, you can then call 911 if anyone is injured. When able to, exchange information with the other driver. This information will help you submit a claim to your insurer. You should obtain the following:
- The other driver’s name
- The other vehicle’s license plate number
- The other vehicle’s make and model
- The other driver’s insurance information
- The other driver’s phone number
If the police respond to the scene, you should also obtain the names and badge numbers of officers who respond to the accident. If there are witnesses, attempt to get their name and contact information. Witnesses can be helpful if the fault is being contested between the two parties in an insurance claim.
5. Documenting the Scene
If you can safely do so, it is helpful to document the car accident scene to provide your auto insurance provider with more information. This information could help your claim, mainly if you are not at fault for the accident.
If the police report to the scene, obtain a copy of the accident report. You can provide this report to your insurer when you initially file a claim. The police report will provide information about the accident and how it had occurred or where the collision took place.
Take pictures of the accident, your vehicle, and any other vehicles involved. Take photos from varying angles to show the damage done to the vehicles involved in the car accident. You should also take a picture of the other driver’s license plate. Share these photos with your insurer when you file a claim.
6. Seeking Medical Treatment for Minor Injuries
If you did not call 911, but you realize that you have minor injuries after the accident, seek medical treatment right away. Symptoms of car accident injuries aren’t always obvious. Injuries like whiplash can take up to a couple of days to present themselves and may be presented as stiffness, frequent headaches, pain, loss of range of motion, and other abnormalities.
Even if you do not feel like you are injured, it is strongly recommended that you make an appointment with your doctor and complete a physical exam to be on the safe side.
7. Notifying Your Auto Insurer and Starting a Claim
You should not rely on the other driver to begin the insurance claim process. You should file a claim with your own auto insurance agency. The steps for reporting a claim vary among insurers. Depending on your insurance agency, you may be able to file online or over the phone.
Filing a claim can take as little as 10 minutes or up to an hour or longer, depending on the accident’s complexity and severity and the amount of information you can provide your insurer. Keep up on your insurance claim and respond to any correspondence that you receive from the insurer.