An auto accident, also known as a car crash, occurs when a car collides with another vehicle, human, animal, object, or a stationary object such as a tree, telephone pole, or electric pole. Auto accidents are bound to happen, especially with how many vehicles are sold each year. Around 17 million cars and light trucks were sold in the United States back in 2018. That’s a lot of vehicles on the road and a lot of chances for accidents to occur.
Getting into an auto accident is stressful, but it’s important to stay calm if you get into one. Keeping calm will help you keep a level head and think clearly about what your next steps should be. Part of keeping calm is knowing what to do in case of an auto accident. If you aren’t sure what these steps are, don’t worry. Here are some key things to do if you get into a crash and why it’s important to follow them closely.
Stay at the Scene
As you learn what to do in case of an auto accident, the first thing to do is stay at the scene. Do not drive away, even if you think the crash isn’t a big deal. If you drive away, you could be charged with hit-and-run. Even if a car tow service stops and offers to take your car to a shop, do not go until the police have investigated.
Fleeing the scene of a crash comes with hefty ramifications, including fines and possibly jail time. If you flee the scene of a crash and someone is injured, you could be charged with a felony. Even if the accident is your fault, stay at the scene.
Check For Injuries
When thinking about what to do in case of an auto accident, one of the most important things to do is to check yourself and the other parties involved for injuries. The injuries people receive largely depend on the severity of the crash. Some common injuries resulting from accidents include whiplash, back pain, broken bones, head trauma, broken teeth, and spinal cord injuries. Many people can also receive minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, and other non-invasive injuries.
Even if you don’t think you’re severely injured, it’s not a bad idea to be evaluated by a medical professional. You may look fine on the surface, but you could have internal bleeding. If there’s an EMT at the scene, they can evaluate you and determine if you can be released or if you should go to the emergency room. Also, remember the injuries you sustained in case you need to hire an injury attorney down the line.
Pull Your Car Over
The more you learn about what to do in case of an auto accident, the more you realize how important post-accident safety is. If you got into an accident in the middle of a road or busy highway, try to pull your car over to the shoulder or a safer space away from traffic. The last thing you want is to risk getting others involved in the crash.
If you can, turn your hazard lights on when you pull over. If you get into an accident at night, see if you have flares and set them up if you do. Doing these things will help others on the road safely see where your car is.
Call the Police
When learning what to do in case of an auto accident, one of the most important things you must do is call the police when the crash occurs. The police are responsible for investigating the scene, taking a report, and directing traffic if the accident is blocking the road.
Calling the police is a vital step in this process for a number of reasons. For starters, some states require you to call the police after car accidents, even if they’re minor. Police are also responsible for taking an official report of the crash, which is important for insurance and legal reasons. An auto insurance company may want to see the report, and if someone involved in the crash wants to pursue legal action, their accident attorney will want to see the report.
Don’t Admit Fault at the Scene
This may seem like a minor tip, but it’s one that you must remember when learning what to do in case of an auto accident. Do not admit fault at the scene of the crash. Don’t tell the other parties involved in the crash or the police that it was your fault. If you do, it can be used against you. If others involved in the crash decide to sue you, they can use that statement in court, and it’s tough to argue against your own words in a court of law.
Plus, you may think the accident was your fault but the police investigation could prove otherwise. If that’s the case, and you actually state the accident was your fault, you could unnecessarily put the blame on yourself and let the person who actually was responsible walk free.
Exchange Information With the Involved Parties
It’s important to get the names and contact information of everyone involved in the accident. You should also get their car insurance information. You should get all this information because if legal action is taken in the future, you can tell your lawyer how to get in contact with all involved parties. In addition to getting information on the other drivers involved in the crash, should get the names and contact information for passengers and witnesses alike.
You should also take down the makes and models of the other cars involved in the crash for your own reference. That way, if there’s a discrepancy in the report, you can identify it and have it be corrected.
Take Pictures of the Accident
Documenting the accident is a crucial step in this process. You must take pictures of the damage your car sustained in the crash. Take pictures of the front, side, and rear of your car, along with any other parts that were damaged. Your insurance company will likely want to see pictures of the accident once you make a claim. They want to make sure the damage you’re reporting in the claim is accurate, and they can verify your claim through photos of the damage.
Be sure to take pictures of your car from multiple angles. While the damage may look minor from one angle, it could actually be more substantial when looking at it from another angle. This will help you determine just how damaged your car is and what kind of insurance claim you need to make. If you need collision repair, they need to see why. If you say you need to visit a shop that does paint car services, you must show them why.
You should also take pictures of the injuries you sustained in the crash. These pictures could come in handy if you decide to take legal action against the person who caused the crash. Your lawyer could present these pictures in court to prove you did sustain the injuries you said you did.
Call Your Car Insurance Company
As you research what to do in case of an auto accident, you’ll notice that an important step is to call your car insurance company and file a claim. A claim is a request for money to help cover the cost of the damage associated with the crash. This includes getting help with auto body repair and more serious car repairs, such as engine and transmission repair.
You should also review what your insurance policy covers as you file your claim. See what your deductible is and what kind of liability insurance you have. This is crucial information to have because it’ll help you determine how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket for repairs. You may also have to budget for others’ medical expenses, depending on if you’re at fault for the crash.
If you need to go to the hospital or see a doctor, it’s not a bad idea to call your medical insurance provider and get brushed up on your policy. You may think you’re covered, but the last thing you want is to have an unexpected medical bill added on top of the repair bills you may have. Ask what your deductible is and what kinds of medical services are covered under your policy.
Contact a Lawyer
Figuring out what to do in case of an auto accident is important, and a smart step to take in this process is to contact a lawyer quickly. A lawyer who specializes in auto accidents can help you understand your legal rights as either the victim of a car crash or the person at fault.
They’ll help you understand what the legal process looks like as well. An attorney will carefully lay out what your legal options are and how you can pursue them. You should submit as much information about the accident to them as you can, including the police report, pictures of damage and injuries, and the names and contact information of those involved in the crash.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with an auto accident attorney is to be completely honest with them about what happened in the crash. If you aren’t honest with them, they can’t help you to the best of their ability. Plus, if you go to court but leave out details of the crash, the other party involved could bring those details up and blindside your lawyer. This can make your case look bad, so be honest with your lawyer about the crash and the role you played in it.
You should pick a lawyer who has a good record with cases like yours and who has your best interest in mind at all times. After all, they are helping you through a stressful situation that can get messy if it’s brought to court. Having an experienced attorney you can trust is crucial, so don’t be afraid to do your research and talk to multiple attorneys before officially hiring one for your case.
Look For Another Car
Determining what to do in case of an auto accident is a sign of good planning on your part. One part of the plan you shouldn’t leave out is looking for a car to replace yours if needed. The damage your car sustained in the accident may be too severe to fix, or the collision repair could cost more than the car is worth. If that’s the case, you’ll likely need to find a new mode of transportation.
The kind of car you choose to look for is completely up to you. You may want a brand new car, or you may want a used car that’s in good shape. When picking a new car, remember that you may have other expenses stemming from the accident to pay for. These expenses include outstanding repair bills, medical bills, and attorney fees. If these bills are adding up and will cost you a lot each month, you may want to look for an inexpensive car. That way, you aren’t struggling to make ends meet.
There’s a lot to keep track of when thinking about what to do in case of an auto accident. The most important thing to do, though, is to stay calm and not to jump the gun on anything. Don’t get angry at the scene and don’t admit anything was your fault. Take this process one step at a time and make sure you complete each step thoroughly before moving on to the next one.
Getting into a car accident and dealing with the aftermath is stressful. However, having a plan in place and knowing what to do can help reduce the stress and complications that come with the aftermath. Remember to keep your health and safety, as well as the health and safety of those around you, a priority after the crash occurs. Things will work out, and you’ll get the help you need each step of the way.