By Mitch Rice
Getting in an auto accident can be a traumatic experience. Not everyone has their wits about them after a collision has occurred.
And yet, there are still responsibilities that you must tend to. As such, your best bet is to study up now so that you know what to do when the moment arrives.
Need help? Then read on. Here are the 10 steps to follow after you’ve been in a car accident.
- Stop Your Vehicle
First thing’s first: stop your vehicle. Find a safe spot near you (like a parking lot or the shoulder of the road), drive over to it, and park.
The only exception to this would be if you were injured. Don’t fight through an injury just to get your car out of the way. Instead, get out of your car and move yourself to a safe place that’s away from traffic.
Note, if you do leave your vehicle on the road, put your flasher lights on. Otherwise, you risk it causing another accident.
- Check the Other Individual for Injuries
Once your vehicle is parked, you should get out and speak with the other individual(s) who were involved in the accident. Inquire about injuries and, if needed, provide first aid. If necessary, call an ambulance.
- Call the Police
Next, you’re going to want to file a police report. This will help settle who was responsible for the accident, which can come into play when it comes to insurance coverage and healthcare costs.
If you’re in an urban area, you can expect the police to show up with 15 minutes. If you’re in a rural area or small town, you could be waiting up to an hour.
Whatever you do, don’t drive off. Not only could this cost you in terms of insurance coverage but it could also be considered leaving the scene of an accident, a crime that carries some fairly harsh punishments.
- Exchange Contact Information With the Other Individuals Involved
When you’re waiting for the police to show up, you’ll want to exchange contact information with the other drivers involved. This way, you can keep a line of communication open during the healthcare and insurance coverage process.
The information you should exchange includes your full name, your phone number, the name of your insurance company, your insurance policy number, your driver’s license number, your driver’s plate number, the make, model, and color of your vehicle, and the location of the accident.
- Take Photos of the Scene
It’s also a good idea to take photos of the scene, especially if the vehicles are in the same position as they were when the accident occurred. Regardless, it’s a good idea to get pictures of the vehicles’ damage.
If you have any injuries from the accident, make sure to take pictures of those as well. Images of flesh wounds, bruises, and the like can be very helpful if you decide to file a lawsuit.
- Talk to Witnesses
Are there any witnesses hanging around the scene of the accident? If so, you might consider speaking with them. Someone might have an account of the incident that paints you in a positive light; this could be beneficial in the event of a lawsuit.
If it’s allowed, get a video or voice recording from the witness. Otherwise, get the witness’s contact information. You just might need it later.
- Tell the Truth to the Police Officer
Once the police officer shows up, he or she will ask you for your account of the accident. When giving this account, be entirely truthful.
Note, however, that you shouldn’t place blame on yourself. You should simply relay the information as you perceive it and let the officer decide what happens next.
If you do lie about the accident, the officer could hold it against you and cite you when he or she otherwise wouldn’t have. Honesty is the best policy in this situation.
- Call Your Insurance Company
After you’ve left the scene, you should call up your insurance company and tell them that you were involved in an accident. You’ll be asked to explain the extent of the damage to both vehicles. They’ll also want to know if you were cited or not.
Insurance companies can be resistant to cover certain damages, so make sure to stand up for yourself. Again, don’t lie, but make sure you get your point across. You pay your premiums so that you’ll receive coverage when you need it; you need it at this time.
- Go to the Hospital if Injured
Did you suffer any injuries? If so, you’ll want to make a trip to the hospital right after leaving the scene. This way, you can be formally assessed and diagnosed.
This trip to the hospital can provide leverage in the event of a lawsuit. It can also give you leverage with your insurance company.
- See a Lawyer if Injured
One last thing to do if you were injured is to see a lawyer. You could very well get a settlement for your injuries, and a law firm like Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group can assist you in getting it.
There’s also a chance that you’ll be sued by the other person involved in the accident. Again, a lawyer can help you get through this.
Handle Your Auto Accident the Right Way With These 10 Tips
Failure to tend to these responsibilities after an auto accident can land you in hot water, whether it be with your insurance company, the driver you were in an accident with, the law, or otherwise. Do your due diligence and everything should turn out alright.