Car accidents are scary. After an accident, you’re likely to have adrenaline rushing and may be in somewhat of a “fog.” Such events tend to create tunnel vision, making it difficult to think about the critical next steps. However, there are certain things you should do immediately following an accident, and understanding them before an accident occurs can help you recall them in the moments following the accident.
The first thing you should do is assess yourself and those in your vehicle for injuries. Check very carefully for any obvious injuries. You should be especially mindful during this process, as the adrenaline experienced during a car accident may block you from recognizing injuries immediately. Injuries that occur during an accident sometimes do not become apparent until hours or even days after the accident occurs. Make sure to do a quick sweep of the body and check for functionality of all limbs and any sign of bleeding. Be aware that even where injuries aren’t outwardly apparent, you may have experienced internal injuries if the impact was severe enough.
Next, you’ll want to ensure you and your vehicle are out of the roadway. You should equip your vehicle with cones, reflective emergency triangles, or emergency flares. If your car is disabled and you cannot remove it from the roadway, these basic safety items can avoid additional damage to your vehicle and other drivers on the road by alerting them to the road hazard. Additionally, if the hazard lights on your vehicle are functional, you should consider initiating the lights to warn other drivers.
If you did not immediately initiate the emergency lights, you should not return to the vehicle if doing so would put you in danger of being struck by another motorist. Also, be careful when exiting your vehicle, especially if you cannot remove the vehicle from the roadway. After an accident, you may not have proper mental function, and it’s easy to overlook hazards that may have seemed evident before being involved in an accident.
After you and your passengers are safe, you should call the police. Depending on department policies in the area, the police may not come to the scene for a minor accident. If an officer does arrive, be sure to document the officer’s name and badge number. If a report of the accident is available at the scene, request a copy. Sometimes, you may need to wait a period and request a copy from the department’s record division. In situations where an officer does not arrive on the scene and where it is safe to do so, it is advisable to take photos and video of the scene. Try to take photos from all four angles and close-up photos of any specific damage to the vehicle.
After you have documented the scene, be sure to collect all involved parties’ information. Ask for insurance verification, driver’s license numbers, and the names of involved parties. It is usually easier to take a photo of the documentation rather than copy the information with pen and paper. This saves time and also ensures you’re collecting accurate information. Your insurance carrier will likely need this information if a claim is being filed. It can also be helpful when requesting police reports if you could not obtain a copy at the scene of the accident.
Finally, you will want to see a doctor. As mentioned previously, not all injuries are apparent immediately following an accident. The safest thing to do after an accident is to have your doctor check for any issues you may have missed. Doctors are familiar with common injuries from auto accidents and will be able to do a thorough evaluation to be sure you haven’t missed anything. Additionally, you will probably want to check with your insurance carrier to begin the process of filing an insurance claim to repair any damage to your vehicle. Most insurance carriers have a claims department, or you may elect to contact your agent to guide you through the process.
Finally, the legalities of auto accidents can be tricky. It is not always clear who was to blame for an auto accident or who is liable for the damages. Even though it may seem clear that one party caused the accident, that may not always be the case. It is best to have a qualified attorney on your side to represent your interests in the insurance claims process. Don’t leave it up to insurance carriers with a financial interest in a certain outcome. Let The Horwitz Law Group represent your best interest. Our experienced team of attorneys can handle all areas of your auto accident case. Contact us today!
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