What To Do After A Car Accident Ultimate Guide
Make sure to call 911. This ensures help is immediately on the way if someone needs urgent medical care. Even when the damage is only minimal, call 911 to document the accident.2. Check Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
Look around and see if the passengers, including yourself, have injuries. It is important to note all their responses in case they try to make car accident claims later on.3. Stay Calm and Be Polite
It's natural to be shaken after a car accident. While it is tempting to give in to anxiety, try to remain as calm and collected as possible. You need a level head to deal with the situation properly. Try not to lose your temper because your aggravated reaction may be used against you.4. Take Pictures of the Cars Involved
Collect evidence by taking pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident. Take a picture of the details such as the street view, street signs if any, license plates, full view of all vehicles, and all the damaged parts.5. Exchange Information with the Other Driver
Make sure you have these details:
- Phone Number
- Insurance company
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance company
If the driver is not the owner, get the owner’s information as well. Take a photo of their auto insurance card, driver's license, and registration.6. Move Your Car from the Traffic
It is instinctive to move the car out of the way, especially when you're causing traffic. If you cannot move the car, stand somewhere safe.
Do not move your car when:
- The damage is so severe that moving it would be unsafe
- Passengers are injured and moving the car causes more injuries
- The other party insists it's your fault although it's not clear if it is
Other than those mentioned above, you can move your car if the situation calls for it. But do not drive off from the scene, you could be in serious trouble if you do.7. File a Police Report
Notify the police and make sure they take a police report even when the accident is minor. It serves as a detailed record of the incident. You may need it for an insurance claim or as evidence for legal problems.8. Make Sure You Have All the Necessary Information Before Leaving
If possible, do not leave unless you have all the information you need, like those mentioned in No. 4. Get these details as well because they may come in handy later:
- Time of the crash
- Road condition
- Weather and lighting
- Names of witnesses and their contact details
- The contact information of the police officer who came to the accident
Have yourself checked by a doctor after leaving the scene of the accident. You might think you are fine when you don't have obvious wounds. Pain is a common symptom of an injury like an impacted fracture, and of course, you are likely to notice this immediately.
But remember that you can't detect some injuries right away. For example, it is sometimes difficult to detect a brain injury unless you go through imaging tests like a CT scan or an MRI. Internal hemorrhage and other less obvious injuries are simply hard to detect and are dangerous. This is why you must go to the nearest hospital where you can get a thorough check-up.10. Call Your Insurance Company
If possible, contact your insurance company right away. Relay the details as clearly and accurately as possible. It is sometimes better to let the police explain the details of the accident if you are still shaken up. A call with an insurance agent also ensures there is a record of the incident.11. Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
When a fair settlement is impossible, you'll need to file a complaint. Look for a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. Your attorney will deal directly with the insurance companies and seek fair and just compensation for your injuries and other losses. This allows you to focus on recovering from your injuries.
Tip: Check for personal injury lawyers around your area and save their contact information in your phone. You never know when you might need their help.
In the video below, a former New York police officer provides some safety tips on what to do after a car accident.
Knowing what to do after a car accident even before it happens may help you more than you think. You don't have to memorize all the tips above. Just make sure you do the three most important things: keep calm, collect information, and call the police and 911.Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer
I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident lawyer. If you or a loved one has been in an accident and suffered injuries, call me for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 11.5.20]
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