Were you recently in a car accident? There are an estimated six million car accidents in the US every year. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, would you know what to do if it did?
You can learn more with this helpful 12-step guide on what to do in a car accident. These steps also apply to motorcycles crashes as well. Follow these steps and you’ll recover your damages as well as your health in no time.
Step by Step List on What to Do in a Car Accident
If you find yourself in a car accident, it can definitely be hard to stay calm in conditions like this. The key to surviving this stressful situation is to stay focused and put these steps into motion:
You should never drive away from the scene of an accident. Whether the accident is major or minor, you’ll need to stop to interact with the other driver. In some states, leaving the scene of an accident without sharing contact information is a felony offense.
2. Protect the Accident Scene
Prevent additional accidents by keeping your parking lights flashing or set up road flares to alert other drivers of the scene. If it’s nighttime and your parking lights don’t work, keep a flashlight with you so that other drivers can see you. All vehicles involved in the car wreck should stay where they are unless they block moving traffic.
3. Notify the Police
Even if there is no serious vehicle damage or personal injuries, call local law enforcement to tell them what just happened. You will need a copy of their car accident report to share with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damages to your vehicle.
4. Share Accurate and Honest Information
When law enforcement arrives, give them your account of what happened the way you remember it. If you don’t remember certain details, tell the officer that you don’t. Don’t try to guess if your memory is unclear.
Investigating officers will ask if you’re injured. If you don’t know whether you’re injured or not, tell them that rather than just say “no.” Most times, car accident injuries don’t appear until many hours after the event.
5. Take Your Own Pictures of the Scene
If you have a cell phone with a camera, take pictures of the car wreck if you can see damage to any of the vehicles. If you have a visible injury, take that picture as well. If you can’t snap pictures at the scene of the collision, return to the site as soon as you can to take photos.
6. Collect and Share Information with Others Involved
If law enforcement doesn’t respond to the accident scene, you should collect contact information for all persons involved in the car accident. This includes all passengers as well as drivers. Be ready to share your same information with the others as well.
You should also collect insurance information from the drivers directly involved in the collision. Ask them to show you their proof of insurance card while you show them yours. If there are any witnesses who saw the collision, ask them for their contact information as well in case you need to contact them in the future.
7. Contact Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance company as soon as you can to report the car accident. You may find that your insurance policy requires you to immediately report any accidents as well as give them your full cooperation. You will also need to notify them quickly if you were injured in the accident and expect to receive medical treatment.
8. Pursue Medical Treatment Even If You Don’t Feel Hurt
Seek medical attention as soon as you can after the accident. Even if you can’t detect any pain or wounds, your physician might find internal damage that could get worse further down the road.
Many times swelling or scar tissue won’t form until days after the event. Visit your doctor so that you can get their diagnosis and recognize any symptoms that might be heading your way in the future.
9. Ask for a Copy of the Accident Report
Circle back with the investigating officers who arrived at your accident scene and ask for a copy of their accident report. Their report will include details from the accident site and any testimony offered by witnesses. You’ll need their report if you want to seek payment from the other driver to help recover your losses.
10. Consider Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
If you think the other driver’s negligence caused your accident, you should try to find a car accident attorney. They are experts in tort law who can guide your claim through the court system. Accident attorneys can help also negotiate settlements with insurance companies.
11. Prepare an Accident Claim Letter
If you and your car accident attorney agree that the other driver caused your accident, you can both draft an accident claim letter. An accident claim letter summarizes the extent of your damages and the costs to fix them. If the other driver doesn’t answer your accident claim letter, you and your attorney can file a lawsuit to collect damages.
12. Negotiations With the Other Driver/s
If the responsible driver wants to avoid court expenses, they might want to negotiate a settlement. Attorneys on both sides of the case can prepare a settlement plan to summarize payment amounts and due dates.
If you’re in a car accident, your first job is to stay focused. Stop your vehicle immediately and section off the accident site with flares to alert others to what happened. Doing this will prevent anyone else from getting injured.
Notify the police right away. Take photos and exchange contact information with other drivers involved.
Call your insurance company to report the accident. If you feel the other driver was responsible for your damages, find an accident attorney immediately.
Check out our website for more information on what to do in a car accident. You’ll also find helpful templates like our sample accident claim worksheet to capture the details. Follow these steps so that you can get the best possible outcome for your claim.