What Do You Do After a Car Accident?
When a car collision occurs, the most important thing is keeping calm. There’s a third response other than fight or flight that most people tap into at dire situations: Freezing up. Keep your mind cool, your body relaxed and take a deep breath. Don’t panic or freak out.
If you can manage that, you’re already doing fantastic.
There are a lot of critical things to do in the event you witness or participate in a car accident. Here’s a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need to do, obtain, and write down immediately after a car accident:
Assess and Protect the Scene
If you’re the driver, this means stopping the car so you don’t end up as a hit-and-runner.
Any time you feel you had a serious impact, stop the car. This is a legal requirement in several states as well, so it’s the best thing to do.
Assess the safety of everyone. Don’t assume anything. The drivers and passengers of both vehicles need to be assessed if they had any injuries.
In the event, anyone is in serious pain or behaving strangely, or unconscious, this should ring your alarm bells. Do not move people if they are injured. People can have concussions and not know it. Including yourself, so safety first, understand if anyone is injured.
The first point of conflict most people encounter is shouting matches and attempts to play the blame game. Avoid both.
Do not let things escalate into a shouting match. If your vehicles are blocking traffic, move them out of the way, while making sure that any injured person is not aggravated.
Once that’s done, it’s time for the next step:
Call for Medical Help and Law Enforcement
You’ll need to file an accident report, that your insurance provider will demand. Inform the police, you need this report.
You’ll need to file a claim for insurance, medical, and legal purposes, and calling the authorities here is mandatory anyway for all the documents and papers you will need.
First priority is medical assistance, as those with concussions and shock need to get diagnosed because they might not even know they have a problem. This includes diagnosing yourself.
Request the names of the police who arrive, so you can coordinate with them later.
When answering the police, do not speculate or blame. Just tell the facts as you know them.
If you are unsure about anything, tell them you do not know. Do not lie or let yourself be led with leading questions.
Exchange insurance information with the other party, and while you do so, begin to document and note information down.
Get a phone camera and take photos of
- The accident site
- The cars, including multiple points of view showing the damage
- Yourself, if you have any visible injuries
Note down information regarding
- The car models involved
- License plate numbers
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle
- Vehicle identification number(VIN)
- Registration numbers
- Driver’s licenses involved
That’s for all the automobile-related paperwork.
The VIN number is located on a metallic strip on the dashboard of the vehicle and can be read from outside the car as well with some cars.
For good measure, note down
- The time the accident occurred
- Names and contact information of the people involved
- Officer names and badge numbers of the police that arrive on site
So you can easily coordinate with the police, the other party to determine what your next step is.
You've Done Well
Your immediate actions are over. Attend to yourself, your passengers and see that everyone is safe.
With the information provided here, you should have no trouble tackling any and all issues that hit you in regards to legal, insurance, and medical-related matters if you ever get into a car accident. If you need to successfully get an insurance payout, get further medical help or even start thinking about filing charges, you have the information you need to make it all work.