Getting into a car wreck is a harrowing experience. No matter how it occurs, you are often left with vehicle damage, frayed nerves and perhaps even serious injuries. However, it’s important to take certain steps immediately after a car accident. It’s also important to note that these basic things must be done regardless of whether you are at fault for the wreck. Here are eight immediate steps to take.
1- Remain at the Scene
You should always remain at the scene of the accident. Don’t leave until it is appropriate for you to do so. When a person leaves the scene, it is typically viewed as a hit and run, which can carry very serious penalties that include jail or prison time, especially if a person is seriously injured or killed in the accident.
2- Check on Everyone Involved
If you are physically able to do so, check on everyone involved in the accident. That includes not only any passengers in your vehicle but the drivers and passengers of other vehicles as well. If anyone says they are injured or is unconscious, avoid moving them as that can exacerbate their condition. If anyone needs medical attention, get it for them.
3- Call the Police
After a car wreck, you should always call the police as soon as possible. This is absolutely essential if there are injuries, significant property damage and especially fatalities after the accident. Additionally, it’s wise to contact the police so that you can request that a police report be taken. Make sure to get the names and badge numbers of the officers who respond.
4- Exchange Information
Exchange information with the other driver or drivers. Take down their names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers if you can. You may also want to get the information of any passengers as well.
It’s important to be smart while exchanging information. After an accident, it might come naturally to apologize and say something else that could be construed as accepting fault for the wreck. Avoid saying anything of the sort and simply get the pertinent information.
5- Speak with Witnesses
Talk to all the witnesses at the scene of the accident. Ask them what they saw and for their accounts. Take down their names, phones numbers and addresses. You may also want to ask people who are local to the area if they have ever witnessed other accidents in that same location.
6- Take Photos
If you are physically able to do so, take photos of the scene of the accident to use as evidence if you decide to pursue a personal injury or damage claim. Use your smartphone’s camera and snap photos of your vehicle, the road, particularly skid marks, and any other damage that might be present.
7- Seek Medical Attention and Keep Track of Medical Records
Even if you feel perfectly fine after the accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. It is not unusual for a person involved in a car accident to believe they are uninjured due to the rush of adrenaline in the body. However, often, what happens is that injuries take several hours or a day to manifest. In addition, even if there are no visible injuries, it’s possible to have internal injuries that can be very serious.
When you receive medical treatment, you should get copies of your records if possible. Document everything you experience with medical care, treatment and any medications you may be prescribed for your injuries, as well as how your injuries have affected your everyday life. Request copies of your medical bills as well, as this can help if you file a personal injury case.
8- Contact Your Insurance Company
Inform your insurance company about the accident. It’s important to do this sooner rather than later to avoid having your claim denied. Be clear and concise and tell the insurer about your injuries and vehicle damage. Be honest and avoid exaggerating.
These are steps you should immediately take after a wreck. Stay as calm as possible and speak with an attorney if you choose to pursue legal action.