Driving helps you get from one place to the next in a quick manner, but if you’re not careful—or not driving defensively—then there’s also the risk of getting into an accident. Although no driver ever wants to experience this, it’s still important to be prepared for what you need to do and what you should expect in the event you are in a collision. Whether the accident is your fault or another driver’s, here are eight important things you must do if you’re in a car accident.
- Move to a safe area.
Depending on the severity of an accident, it’s important for you to move to a safe area. Not only does this reduce the impact on other traffic, but it puts you and the other driver out of harm’s way from getting into additional accidents. Simply moving your vehicle over to the shoulder will help keep you safe. If you cannot move your vehicle, then be sure to at least put on your hazards to warn other drivers you are not able to move.
- Check for injuries.
The next thing you should do is check for injuries. Be sure to look at yourself and see if you’re hurt. If there are others in the vehicle, check on them to see if they have experienced any injuries. If possible, you should also get out and check on the other vehicles involved to see if there are any injuries. If anyone is severely hurt, be sure to call 911 immediately.
- Check the damage.
After you’ve checked on the well-being of those involved, you want to check the damage of the vehicle. If possible, be sure to take pictures so you can document the damage and what happened.
- Call the police.
If you haven’t contacted the police already, be sure to do so now. The police will help to create an accident report that you will use for insurance purposes. Depending on the accident, the police officer will also issue citations to any driver who may have caused the accident by failing to follow the rules of the road. Finally, the police will also help to keep the situation moving along, such as by helping to get vehicles or debris cleared from the road if necessary.
- Share information.
The police officer’s report will have both driver’s information on it, but if you desire to share information with the other driver, such as name, insurance company, etc., then feel free to do so. Again, if you have not taken pictures of the accident yet, be sure to do so at this time.
- Seek medical help.
Sometimes your testosterone levels after an accident will rise, making you feel as if you’re not hurt when you really are. Even after a small fender bender, it’s important for you to seek medical help to ensure you are fine. Even whiplash won’t really start to kick in for 24-36 hours, so ignoring medical attention could be the wrong thing to do. If the accident was not your fault, be sure to keep documentation of your medical visits and bills so you can get the other driver’s insurance to pay for these expenses.
- File the claim.
Once you have your police report, you should contact your auto insurance company to file your claim, especially if there is damage to your vehicle. Your insurance company has its own set of policies and procedures, so be sure to provide them with any information they ask for and do what they ask for. If you don’t, they will not honor your claim, and your vehicle will not be fixed.
- Contact a lawyer.
Most often, a car accident and insurance claim can move along without any hiccups; however, sometimes they require the help of a lawyer. For instance, if you were hurt in an accident, you may need to hire a lawyer to get the other driver’s insurance to pay for your medical expenses (if the accident was ruled their fault). Port St. Lucie law firm Schuler Halvorson Weisser Zoeller & Overbeck also warns to file the lawsuit in a timely fashion, as there are statute of limitations on accident claims. Be sure to tell your lawyer everything that happened and include all bills from your medical expenses. This professional will help you file the claim needed to get the other party to adequately pay for your medical bills.
Accidents are not an enjoyable experience, but knowing how to handle them can help you make smarter decisions in the event of one.