Being involved in a car accident can be a stressful experience. The first moments after an accident can prove to be hectic. However, there are certain things that you should do to ensure everyone’s safety and protect your own interests.
Perhaps the most crucial step is never to leave the scene. Even if there is little or no damage, move the vehicle to a safe place if you are able. Then, remain on the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident is, in most cases, a criminal offence.
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a traumatizing experience. However, keeping calm and following a procedure will make that experience as stress-free as possible. Here are the steps to follow immediately after a car accident:
1. Prevent More Harm
Protecting the scene is an essential first step. It prevents any further harm from resulting because of the accident. Examples could include making sure there are no gasoline leaks, turning on your blinkers or setting out pylons or flares to alert other drivers of the accident.
Failure to protect the scene could result in subsequent collisions and additional injuries. This is even more important if the accident occurred at night. You may also wish to warn other motorists by setting up pylons or flares if the accident was caused by an ice patch in the road.
2. Assess Injuries
Once it is safe to do so, assess the injuries of yourself, and the other individuals involved in the accident. If anyone is hurt, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you can treat your own injuries, you should do so.
Injuries that result from a car accident may take some time to develop and can take a few days to become apparent. It is always a good idea to seek a medical assessment at the emergency room room or with your physician even if you do not think you are injured. It is important to be aware of any concussion like symptoms and report them immediately to a doctor.
3. Call the Police
In many jurisdictions, crashes involving injury or death must be reported to the police. This is especially true for hit and runs, impaired drivers, or if a vehicle towed from the scene. Before the police arrive, make sure you collect as much information as possible.
These are not the only times when you should call the police, however. You may need to file a police report for your insurance company or for any legal action that may result. You may need to contact an injury lawyer for their professional guidance.
4. Locate Potential Witnesses
If anyone witnessed the accident, make sure to collect all of their names and contact information. If you take legal recourse, the witnesses will likely play an important role in establishing what happens with your insurance company or in court.
5. Photograph the Scene
Another key step that will help you with your insurance company or a legal battle that you may be involved in as a result of the accident is to take as many photographs as you can. Photographs are an important way to document the way things were on that day objectively.
Where human minds can easily forget certain details, photographs will ensure that these details are easily documented for future reference. Things you may wish to take photos of could include any damage to your vehicle, any visible injuries to any people or even unexpected road conditions or hazards.
6. Exchange Information
Whether you are at fault or the other driver was at fault, you should always exchange information with the other party. In many jurisdictions, a driver involved in a crash is required to provide their name and insurance provider’s information.
When asking for the other party’s information make sure to get:
- Their name
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance provider
If the police respond to the accident, it is likely that they will obtain the above information from each party. If the police do not respond, ensure you ask to see the other party’s driver’s license and insurance card. Do not rely on the other driver to give you accurate information. If the police do arrive at the scene and obtain everyone’s information, make sure you ask how you can obtain a copy of the accident report.
7. Contact the Insurance Provider
If you were injured in the accident, it is important to take steps to address your injuries. This could include seeking massage therapy, chiropractic therapy, physiotherapy or attending the emergency room. Despite what your injuries are or how you choose to treat them, keep a record of all of the medical treatments you receive, your diagnoses and any expenses.
In most cases, your insurance company will cover, or reimburse you for most of your costs associate with seeking treatment after an accident. However, they will likely require documentation. Make sure to report the incident to your insurance provider in a prompt and timely manner.