What you should do after a car accident
Don’t be unprepared for a car accident. Take the time to keep yourself informed about what steps to take right after and even proactive measures.
The unexpected has happened. You were on your way to work. You were driving to the grocery store. You were just stopping by a friend's house. However, your day has been completely interrupted because you have just been in a car accident. This is something that happens to almost everyone at some point in their life. What can make a significant difference in an automobile crash is what you choose to do afterwards. Knowledge is key in this situation. Below are some helpful tips and even some precautionary measures you can take right now.
TAKE ACTION NOW AND BE PREPARED BEFORE YOU ARE IN AN ACCIDENT
Proactive steps can truly help in a car accident situation. They include first, making sure your car insurance is valid and up to date. Have this information readily available in your glove compartment. Second, you should store safety equipment in your car in case of an accident. This could include a first aid-kit to help with injuries as well as small orange cones to block off the accident site. Also, for inclement weather it is smart to have a blanket and emergency supplies in case you are stuck in a snow storm or trapped in a less-populated area.
STEPS FOR RIGHT AFTER THE CAR ACCIDENT
Here are some steps you should take immediately after you are involved in a car accident. Keep in mind if you are seriously injured, it is best to not move until help arrives. But if you are still able to drive, the following steps are important:
- Remain calm and check to make sure you are okay. Check to make sure your passengers are also okay. Slow and steady breaths are important to staying calm.
- Move your vehicle to a secure area as close to the accident site as possible. This could be simply pulling over to the side of the road so traffic can safely continue or into a parking lot. Put your hazard lights on so vehicles know that you are stopped.
- Once you are safely parked, call the police or dial 911. If you do not have access to a cell phone, go to the nearest phone if you are able to. You can also ask to borrow a passerby or witness' phone.
- After you have called for help or the police, reach out to your insurance carrier as soon as possible. Provide information about what happened.
GATHERING EVIDENCE, TESTIMONY AND WITNESS STATEMENTS
Now that you are in a secure place and have properly notified the police and your insurance carrier, you should take the time to get as much witness testimony as you can. There is no better time than at the time of the accident to obtain this information. Witness recollection is fresh, and it could be difficult to locate and contact witnesses later on. Do not be afraid to get names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses. Take pictures with your phone and capture video of the accident scene. You can even take a video of a witness who is willing to give you his or her statement. The more evidence you have, the better as this is helpful for your attorney.
COOPERATE WITH POLICE AND CONSULT WITH AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY
Always be cooperative with police. You do not have to admit fault, but you should answer their questions in a reasonable manner. You should not agree or sign any type of settlement offer. Speak to an attorney instead. He or she can then give you experienced legal counsel.