More than 6 million car accidents occur in the United States each year.
They happen on major highways, in parking lots, and in our neighborhoods. Often, these accidents result in injuries and vehicle damage.
And when accidents do happen, it’s important to know what to do next.
Continue reading to discover nine key steps you must take after your first car accident occurs!
1. Check Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
The unthinkable happened and you have experienced your first car accident.
Accidents can be overwhelming and scary. The first thing you should do when you get into an accident is to check yourself and everyone in the vehicle for injuries. Make sure there aren’t any wounds that need tending to and that no one is trapped inside.
The most important thing in these situations is your lives. Make sure you are all safe and okay.
2. Stay Where You Are and Get Help
You should never leave the scene of an accident.
Don’t drive away from the accident as leaving the scene can lead to jail time and fees. If possible, move over to the side of the road in a safer location.
After the accident occurs and you know everyone is safe, call 911 for help. The police will come out to the accident scene. Make sure that you know where the accident occurred and give dispatch as much information as possible.
Another reason why you must call the police is that you will need your case on file when working with insurance companies.
3. Keep Note of the Facts
During the entire accident, you should try to observe as many things as possible.
Sometimes, after an accident, you may be terrified and have no idea what is happening. It may all just seem like a blur. But try your best to observe how many cars were involved, where it happened, and how.
Make sure that you only tell the police what happened. You should not use this time to guess what happened or give your opinion. If the officers ask you a question that you aren’t sure of, just answer honestly so no false information is added to the case.
Avoiding speculation will help you avoid more problems down the road.
4. Take Pictures and Document Everything
As long as you are in a safe area, and the police allow you to, you can take pictures of the accident for your own documentation.
Insurance companies will want as much information as possible about the accident to determine who is at fault. Taking pictures can help prove your perspective in court if needed.
Make sure you also take pictures of everyone’s injuries, not just the vehicle damage. If someone has bruises or wounds from the accident, document them for the insurance company. Many times, you will have to wait until you leave the scene of the accident to take these photos.
5. Swap Driver Information
Once everyone is safe and statements have been given to the police, you can exchange diver information.
When the police are involved, they are often able to provide this information to you. However, you may have to speak with the other driver in some cases. Make sure that you get the other driver’s name, address, and phone number.
If more than two cars were in the accident, do this with everyone involved.
This is crucial information that you will need, along with their insurance information. Typically people swap insurance cards to take a picture or write down the other’s driver’s details.
Witnesses should also swap information with people involved in the accident as they may be needed in court.
6. Report the Accident to Police
At the scene of the accident, police will arrive and obtain statements from everyone involved.
When you report an accident to them, you will receive a police report number that you should keep track of. This number will be used for reference when getting your official police report.
For any accidents that occur on a state highway, report them to the state police. The local authorities don’t have jurisdiction in that area.
7. Seek Medical Help
Depending on the severity of the accident, you may need to seek medical attention.
It is common for people to not notice injuries until after the accident, such as the next day. If you are feeling a lot of pain, you can go to urgent care and get help. Be sure to get documentation so you can send it to your insurance company.
8. Call Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance company to file a claim as soon as possible. You can call your insurance provider and give them all of the details of the accident and your police record number. They will use all of this information to provide you with financial assistance.
Insurance claims often involve multiple steps, so keep track of your case number for future references.
9. Talk to an Attorney
If a lot of damage occurred or someone was injured, you may want to talk to an attorney.
Not only can they help protect you, but they can also get you more money to repair damages. You should learn more about car accident pre-settlement funding to know what you can expect with your attorney.
Know What to Do After Your First Car Accident
The worst-case scenario has happened, and you’ve found yourself involved in your first car accident.
The tips in this guide can help you navigate through the entire experience. You can get proper assistance and know what to expect every step of the way. The most important thing to do is drive safely and always be alert on the road.
Be sure to check out our blog for more articles about staying safe and reporting accidents!