Millions of auto accidents occur annually on U.S. roadways. So, there is a good chance you or someone you know will be involved in one at some point. When it does, be ready to respond with these seven steps to take after an auto accident.
1. Ensure Everyone Involved Is Safe
The first thing you should do after being involved in a crash is to ensure your safety and that of any other drivers involved. Do a quick self-check for injuries if possible. Note anything that seems out of the ordinary by writing it down or recording the check.
If there are other drivers, recommend that they do the same. Try to assist anyone with more severe injuries until additional help arrives.
2. Remove Cars From the Roadway
Some states require you to remove vehicles from the roadway if there are no serious injuries. It is generally safer to be on the side of the road instead of in it, and it allows traffic to resume more quickly. Knowing what is expected can help you prepare for this step. So, you will need to do that if there are only minor injuries. Take pictures of the crash scene before you move the vehicles to document placement and details. It can also help you identify other drivers if they provide false information.
3. Exchange Driver Information
Once everyone is safe, you can exchange driver information. Be sure to get the following details from everyone involved:
- Names of drivers and passengers
- Contact information for all drivers
- Vehicle information (make, model, license plate, etc.)
- Insurance companies and policy numbers
If witnesses stop to assist, it’s also a good idea to ask for their information. This will help if they are needed to confirm information later on.
4. File a Report
Depending on where you live, you may be required to file a police report after an accident. However, even if it isn’t necessary, it is still a good idea to go ahead and notify the authorities. This gives you a concrete record of the day, time, and circumstances of the accident that you may need later. In addition, your insurance company may require that information once you file a claim.
5. Get Medical Attention
How soon you seek medical care after an accident may depend on factors like visible injuries, how you feel, and the severity of the crash. However, it is a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional within a few days, even if you feel fine. Some crash injuries can make a delayed appearance. Others, like internal bleeding, may produce diffuse symptoms that are hard to pin down to a cause.
If emergency responders attend the scene, have them check for anything concerning. Emergency medical personnel are trained to notice symptoms through the effects of shock or trauma. For accidents where EMS is not called, stop by an urgent care center or contact your primary care physician as soon as possible to be safe.
6. Contact Your Insurance Provider
Even minor car repairs can be expensive, so you will probably have to involve your insurance company. Notify them of the accident as soon as possible. They will probably need a copy of the police report and any other driver information you can provide. An underwriter will then examine your car and decide on repair coverage.
7. Talk With an Attorney
Calling a Tampa personal injury lawyer may not be the first thing you think of after a car wreck. However, it is often a necessary step in the process. An attorney can help you get compensation in certain situations, such as if your insurance carrier is not offering adequate coverage, the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or you incur a disability.
Knowing what to do after one can help you be prepared in case you are involved in an auto accident. Ensuring the accident scene is safe, filing required reports, and getting medical help are your first steps. Once that is done, you may need to contact your insurance provider and an attorney.