The statistics regarding the number of car accidents in the US make for worrying reading, with around 6 million accidents occurring each and every year, and around 100 Americans dying in car crashes every single day.
We can all make efforts to stay safe on the roads, following the rules, sticking to the speed limit, keeping our hands on the wheel, minimizing distractions, and so on, but sometimes, other drivers’ behavior can endanger our lives, and some accidents are almost unavoidable.
But what do you do if an accident occurs? Many people never spend much or any time pondering this possibility, hoping and believing that it simply won’t happen to them and that they’ll never have to worry about.
However, with so many of these accidents occurring each year, it’s clear to see that the chances of being involved are quite high, even for safe and sensible drivers, and it’s wise to know exactly how to react if and when it happens.
This guide will cover all the key steps to take after an auto accident, from treating any wounds and injuries in the immediate aftermath to negotiating with insurance companies and how to handle settlement offers too.
The First Steps
Let’s begin with what to do right after an accident occurs. Naturally, the immediate action you take will depend on how severe the accident is and whether or not you’ve actually been seriously injured. Accidents can vary wildly in their severity; some will only leave you with bumps and bruises, but others might leave you suffering from other common car accident injuries like whiplash or TBI.
If you don’t seem too hurt and are able to move, the first step is to get out of the car and assist other passengers from the vehicle too, contacting an ambulance if necessary and then getting yourselves safely to the side of the road, away from danger. If your car is blocking the road and you’re able to move it to the side, you should take this time to do so.
Reporting and Documenting
Next, you’ll need to think about reporting the incident to the authorities. Even minor collisions should be reported to the police. This means that an official police report will be filed, and officers may come out to the scene to provide assistance and take witness statements, which could prove highly useful later on if you find yourself in a legal battle with the other driver or their insurance adjuster.
Documenting the scene is another essential step to follow, and this includes taking photos of the vehicles, documenting any injuries you might have, speaking with nearby witnesses who might be able to support your claim of innocence, and so on. All of the evidence you gather in the aftermath of an accident can prove to be invaluable later on, so it’s important to bear this step in mind.
Next, you’ll need to speak with the other driver and exchange information. Usually, this process is pretty straightforward; you’ll need to get the driver’s name, contact detail, insurance information, and license plate number. Some drivers can be irate or even violent in the wake of accidents, and if this is the case, you may want to wait for the police to arrive on the scene to calm the situation down and collect the information you need.
This part of the process really is key, and there are many drivers who will try to give fake information or simply flee scenes without sharing their contact details, so be sure to document everything and take photos, as mentioned above, so you don’t fall into any traps. Once you’ve got the other driver’s information, you may also choose to call your own insurance company and report the incident.
Get Medical Help
As mentioned earlier on, car accident injuries can range from simple cuts and scrapes to broken bones and severe brain trauma, so it’s really important that you get yourself to a doctor as quickly as possible, along with other passengers involved in the accident. This rule applies in all cases, even if you don’t feel any pain or notice any visible injuries on your body.
There are various kinds of car crash injuries that don’t appear straight away, and it’s not uncommon for victims of accidents to feel fine at first, but then notice pain building up in the hours and days that follow. A medical doctor will be able to diagnose any issues and carry out some tests to ensure that you’re not severely injured or identify any injuries you might not have noticed.
Contact a Lawyer
Once the above steps have been taken care of in the wake of a car accident, you might like to contact a car accident attorney. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, the other driver’s insurance agency may take steps to try and minimize your claim and offer low unfair settlements. An attorney will help you deal with these potential pitfalls and get a settlement that is right for you, covering any medical and additional expenses you incur as a result of the crash.
The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the better, as insurance adjusters and opposing legal teams often get to work very quickly, using various tactics and techniques to try and get the best possible arrangements for themselves and their clients. An attorney on your side will be able to guide you through the process, helping you avoid common mistakes and make the right decisions.
Being in an accident is never easy. It can be stressful, harmful, and damaging in more ways than one, but by taking the right action, you can get through this difficult time and achieve a settlement that works for you. Keep these tips in mind to give yourself the best chance of success, remembering the importance of documenting and reporting the scene, as well as getting any necessary medical care you may need.