Auto accidents are scary and stressful situations. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, it is normal to ask yourself many questions like – “should I call the police?”, “what if someone is hurt?”, “do I need to move my car?”, “is it safe to get out of my car?”
Regardless of whether you have ever been involved in an accident before now, it is important to remember that every accident is different and be aware of what you should do in any auto accident situation. Here are some helpful tips for what to do after an auto accident.
- Check for Injuries
The first thing you should do after an auto accident is check yourself and anyone else in your vehicle for injuries. If anyone is injured, be careful about attempting to move them without help from emergency responders.
- Move to Safety
If you and your passengers are not seriously injured and can easily do so, move to the side of the road to a safer location. If your car is operable and not in danger of harming others, you may also move your vehicle off to the side of the road out of traffic lanes. Never move your vehicle if it is tangled with another vehicle, or if there are other parties on the road nearby who may be injured.
- Call 911
In today’s age of mobile devices and OnStar, you or someone else may already have called 911 before moving to safety. It is advised that you move to safety and out of traffic before using your phone, but if you are injured or entrapped, you should call 911 as soon as possible.
- Be Patient Until Help Arrives
Auto accidents are emotional and stressful. You may be anxious to make contact with other drivers, especially if you believe that they are at fault for the accident. You should avoid engaging in conflict. Turn on your hazard lights or use road flares, and wait for help.
You may also be anxious to help others who are injured, but it is best to wait for help, unless you are experienced in CPR or First-Aid and can offer temporary and safe aid.
- Collect Information
Once help has arrived and the situation has stabilized, you should collect contact information for any other parties involved. Make sure that you collect the following from other individuals on the scene:
- Name, address, and telephone number
- Insurance policy number and provider
- License plate and driver’s license information
- Make, model, and color of vehicles involved
- The location where the accident occurred
You should also document the accident scene as best as possible. If you are able to do so, collect the following at the accident scene:
- The name and badge number of law enforcement responding to the scene.
- Request a copy of the police report, or get instructions on how to obtain one.
- Take photographs of the accident scene, including property damage to all cars involved.
- Request contact information from any witnesses or bystanders.
As you communicate with other people at the scene, never admit guilt, and avoid providing too much information. Be truthful and upfront with law enforcement, but be careful what you say. In stressful situations, many people ramble and provide information that isn’t helpful or relevant to their situation.
- Contact Your Insurance Provider
You want to contact your insurance provider pretty soon after an auto accident occurs. Find out what information you need in order to file a claim, and what you can expect as it is processed. If you are uncomfortable with what you learn from your provider, or your claim is denied, you may want to contact an attorney to ensure that your claim is being handled properly, and that your legal rights are also being upheld.
- Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured in an auto accident that was caused by someone else, you may find it helpful to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your situation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or criminal actions.