You’ve Been in a Car Accident. Now What?
It’s one of those moments you never forget.
If you’re fortunate, it’s a fender bender when no one is hurt and both cars drive away.
If you’re not, it might be a violent crash with injuries that can alter the course of someone’s life. Perhaps your own.
Getting into a car accident is emotionally jarring, and what you do immediately after the collision can have serious consequences.
If you are ever the unfortunate victim of a car crash, take these important steps immediately:
- Get out of harm’s way. If your car is in traffic or you or someone else is in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic, move your car out of the way if possible. Once you’ve done so, use your hazard lights to alert drivers that your car is disabled. If your car is not drivable, call police immediately and remain in the vehicle until they arrive.
- Is anyone hurt? If so, how badly? Assess the situation quickly when it comes to injuries. Are you hurt? Is someone in your car hurt? If another car is involved, how about the driver and passengers in that vehicle? Once you have checked on everyone, determine if it’s necessary to call an ambulance, and if it is, call 911 immediately. Give the emergency dispatcher as much information as possible when you call, particularly about the location of the accident. This can decrease response time for emergency teams.
- Call the police. This is the best course of action even if it’s minor accident where no one is hurt. A responding police officer serves as an impartial evaluator of the collision. He or she will gather data, often interviewing those involved and filing a police report if necessary. Police documentation is critical, particularly if the accident becomes the subject of legal action.
- Gather information. Now is the time to ensure you capture a record of what happened.
- Note the location, time and date of the accident.
- Obtain the name, address and telephone number of the other driver.
- Record the license plate of any other cars involved, and take note of the make and model of the other car(s).
- Gather proof of insurance from the other drivers(s), including the name of the insurer and the policy number.
- Take pictures and/or video of the accident scene so you document what it looked like, especially any damage to your car and any other vehicles involved.
- If there are any witnesses to the accident, take down their name and contact information.
- Make sure to get contact information from the responding police officer so you can reach out after the accident, especially if it is necessary to obtain the police report.
- Get help if you are hurt. Injuries connected to a car accident sometimes do not show up immediately. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, seek medical attention to diagnose and treat the problem, and keep a record of the treatment.
- Notify your insurance company. Let them know you have been in an accident. Once you have filed a claim, ensure you follow through with your insurance company to understand what coverage is available with your policy and how the claim is being processed. If you are hurt, make sure you get a medical claim number from your insurance company so you can provide it to your doctors.
If you have injuries following a car accident, consult an attorney. You may be entitled to compensation.
Jack Goodrich and Associates offers a no-cost personal consultation concerning your case and will advise you on how we might be able to secure a fair settlement for you.
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