Steps to Take After Being Involved in a Car Accident
The period of time that occurs right after a car accident usually seems like one big blur. The experience of being involved in a collision is extremely jarring and can leave you feeling at a bit at a loss.
Unfortunately, during that same chunk of time, it’s also vital for you to be composed and thorough. It can be really difficult to remember what you need to do.
This list walks you through everything step by step, making it easier to keep track of all the little details. Give it a read so you’re prepared in the event of an accident, though hopefully you’ll never have to deal with one.
First of all, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by preparing ahead of time. Having the things you need helps you remain calm and focused after an accident.
Packing a first aid/emergency kit is something that all drivers should do. You don’t know when you might need medical supplies, a flashlight, or a spare phone charger. Keep the essentials on board with you.
Double check to make sure that you have a copy of your insurance info. Also make sure that you have a pen and paper readily available in your car.
Always bring a charged phone with you when you’re taking off for a drive. You’ll be thankful that you did if you end up needing to call for help quickly.
If your insurance company has an app, install it ahead of time. Then you’ll be able to manage claims easily on your phone.
Invest in a roadside assistance plan. Whether you get roadside assistance from your car dealer, insurance company, or an organization like AAA, it’s an excellent resource to have.
Move Your Vehicle
If you’re in a collision but your car is intact and can be moved, try to pull it over to the side of the road. For most minor accidents, it’s not important for cars to stay exactly where they ended up.
However if it was a significant collision and driving your car will cause further damage, leave it where it is and put the flashers on if possible. That will help reduce the likelihood of further accidents.
Assess the Situation
Make sure that no one is hurt. If you find that medical attention is needed, call 911 immediately so they can get to the scene quickly.
Remember that while you should always check to determine if the people in the other car(s) are okay, be careful not to get involved in a conversation.
If you apologize or discuss the accident, your statements might come back to bite you if any legal proceedings take place later.
After you have checked on everyone, contact the police and let them know there has been an accident. If an officer is needed, they’ll send one right away.
If it’s unsafe to move your car because of its condition, you should also contact your roadside assistance service. If you don’t have one, you can wait until you talk to your insurance company to find out what they cover in terms of towing.
You’ll want to have the vehicle moved to a reputable Cincinnati auto repair shop where it can be looked at by the insurance company.
Be Clear and Honest
When the police arrive, they’ll take statements from both parties. When you give your account of what happened, make sure to tell things exactly as they happened.
Avoid speculating or filling in parts of the story that you’re not entirely sure of. If you don’t know something, be honest with the officer and say just that.
Also think carefully before stating whether or not you are injured. Shock from an accident can mask physical pain and often side effects of a car crash don’t even start to make themselves known until well after the fact.
Unless you’re absolutely positive that you have sustained no injuries, just tell the officer that you’re not sure at the moment.
It is critical that you get all of the necessary information you need to file your claim and follow up later if necessary.
These are the key pieces of information you need to gather:
- Names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and license plate numbers of anyone involved in the collision
- Insurance company names, phone numbers, and policy numbers
- Personal info for any direct witnesses
- Location of the accident
- Name, phone number, and badge number of police officer
- Police report number
- Name of roadside assistance service (if not your own) and name of employee
One tip to remember is that your social security number is not a necessary for the other driver(s) or police to know. You don’t want to hand out personal information that’s not relevant.
Be cooperative and provide everyone with what they need, but don’t go overboard with the sharing of information.
Get a Visual
Taking photos of the important details can be extremely helpful if there ends up being an argument later about who was at fault.
Don’t interrupt the scene if the police are in the middle of handling things, but if you get a chance, try to snap a shot of any damage to your vehicle, damage to the other vehicle, the location of the accident, and anyone who is involved.
If you have to, wait until the police are finished, and then get few quick images with your phone so you have a visual record of the scene.
File a Claim
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as everything pressing has been taken care of. Provide the necessary information, and again, remember to be clear and truthful.
You can also ask the insurance representative if your policy includes any medical coverage. You might be able to get assistance with paying for accident-related medical costs.
After you’ve filed your claim, your insurance company will arrange for someone to assess the damage your vehicle sustained.
If your car can be driven, you may be asked to bring it to an inspection site for a damage estimate. However, if your car had to be towed because it wasn’t drivable, an adjuster will go directly to the location.
See a Medical Professional
Even if you’re not in pain right away, it’s smart to have a doctor take a look at you. The accident may have caused issues that you’re not yet aware of, like a neck or back injury or a concussion.
It’s better to have a professional thoroughly assess your status than to ignore symptoms of something that could turn into a much bigger problem later.
Seek Legal Advice
Insurance companies typically request a statement after the accident so they can record your version of the events.
It’s a really good idea to have a talk with your lawyer before agreeing to make your statement so your attorney can advise you about how to handle the situation.
Get the Report
Though it might not be filed until a few days after the incident, it’s critical to obtain a copy of the police report.
Having a record of the officer’s take on the situation can be really helpful if there is a dispute about who was in the wrong.