No one plans to get into an accident. However, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the risks, such as making sure your vehicle is regularly serviced, not getting distracted, and driving carefully. Unfortunately, even the most skilled driver can have an accident. Most people are involved in a car crash at some point in their lives, so because of the prevalence of accidents, it is best to know ahead of time what actions to take immediately following one.
Pull Your Vehicle Off the Road
Pull your car off the road to avoid traffic and further damage. If you are unable to move your vehicle, set up flares or turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
After an auto accident, checking yourself and your passengers for injuries is imperative. If someone is severely injured, make sure they do not move. Keep in mind that you might not know the full extent of your injuries should you have any, as you could be in a state of shock. This is especially true if another vehicle hits yours. Even if you feel fine, it is best to get checked out by a doctor, as often injuries after an accident are not apparent immediately.
You should report even minor accidents by calling 911. They will help injured patients and document the details of the accident in a police report. Police obtain vital information such as names, detailed explanation of events from perspectives, insurance, and any eyewitness accounts. Insurance companies rely on police reports for filed claims. Do not leave the scene of the accident before the police arrive, and be sure to take down the name of the officer who writes the report should you need it later.
Write Down or Record What Happened
Although the police report should contain all the necessary information, it will help you in the long run to keep your own notes, images, and videos. Details are quickly forgotten, the more time that passes since the accident. Depending upon the state in which you live and the specifics of your insurance policy, it is easier to recover damages with as much relevant proof you can provide. These variables differ by state and are dependent upon your type and scope of coverage.
Call Your Vehicle Insurance Company
Your insurance agent will let you know exactly what you must do to file a claim. If possible, call them from the scene of the accident. They can guide you on the correct steps to take should you need to have your car towed if severely damaged or totaled.
Keep an Ongoing Log
Keep ongoing notes from your original documentation if you need additional medical help, physical therapy, or lose wages resulting from the accident. Keep a copy of all doctor visits, test reports, and medical bills. You will need this information to collect damages.
Consider Hiring an Attorney
Being involved in an auto accident can be overwhelming and leave you uncertain of your rights, especially if you are injured. An attorney can help you understand your options and protect your rights to make the best decision for your situation after a car accident.