After a car crash, it is important to keep your head about you and follow a precise series of steps. Internalizing this process will allow you to act automatically, which can be important if your emotions are running high or you’re panicking.
- Check for injuries.
Immediately following a car accident, you should check yourself for injuries. When the adrenaline is running high, you may not feel the pain from an injury yet, so do a visual check of your body. Look for cuts, blood, and other indicators of injury. After you’ve examined yourself, check on your passengers, and then check on the other vehicle.
2. Call 911.
If the crash was severe and there are injuries, you should immediately call 911. After you’ve called for assistance from medical personnel, you can begin to take the next steps. However, if the crash isn’t severe, you will still need to contact the police and inform them there has been an accident. Even in the case of minor crashes, the majority of insurance companies require that an officer be on-scene.
3. Gather information.
After the first steps have been taken, you should exchange contact information with everyone involved. Names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, plate numbers, and insurance information are all important. However, while you should be cordial, you should never apologize — doing so may mean you’re claiming responsibility for the accident in the eyes of the law.
4. Talk to witnesses.
If there are witnesses around, talk to them and gather their information if necessary. These witnesses will be helpful for verifying your story when talking to the police and insurance companies.
5. Call your insurance company.
After the first few steps have been taken and everyone has calmed down, you should notify your insurance company that you’ve been involved in an accident. Let them know the details of what happened. It’s important to be honest with the insurance company, as lying to them may result in denial of coverage.
6. Take pictures.
Everyone has a camera phone now. Take photos of the damage to your vehicle, the accident scene, the other vehicle, and anything else that may be relevant. The police will do the same, but it’s important to have your own photos to back it up.
7. Track everything.
After the incident, keep track of all expenses for repairs, medical treatment, and other costs. This will be important should questions arise about the value of the vehicle or the amount of damage caused by the accident.
If it seems as though the other party isn’t intersted in cooperating and you feel you’ll need to defend yourself, seek out legal counsel.