Getting into a car accident can be a terrifying experience. Even if no one gets seriously injured, the feeling of losing control and not being safe can be hard to process. Unfortunately, you need to be able to think clearly following an accident.
By knowing and understanding the practical steps to take after getting in a motor vehicle accident, you’ll be able to start the recovery process. Here’s what to do if you become one of the millions of people to get in a car accident each year.
Get Somewhere Safe
Safety is the number one concern in the moments following an accident. Turn on your hazard lights right away, and, if possible, move to the side of the road.
It’s also essential to keep your physical safety in mind. Sometimes people jump out of the car in shock. If you’re on a busy roadway or your accident was caused by poor conditions, sometimes it’s safest to stay in the vehicle.
If you feel hurt, play it safe and stay seated. If you smell gas, get away from the vehicle. Even if you don’t feel hurt, limit your movements, and be gentle with yourself. Sometimes the adrenaline from a crash can mask any pain or injuries you may have.
Call the Authorities
In some areas, they’ll tell you not to call the authorities unless there is significant damage. If in doubt, it’s always worth making the call. By doing so, you’ll have the voice of authority to direct what happens next, and a police report will be on file.
In some areas, you are legally obligated to report an accident, regardless of how minor it is.
It’s also worth calling the authorities if you think that the situation could get tense with someone else who was in the accident. People often get angry after a collision. Calling the police can help keep the situation under control so everyone can get the information they need. That even applies to circumstances when you feel out of control or angry.
To file a proper claim, you’ll need to exchange information with the other people in the accident. Furthermore, you’ll want to capture the information of anyone who may have witnessed the event. During this process, you’ll want to share:
Insurance provider information
Insurance policy number
You do not need to capture a photo of someone else’s license, nor should you allow them to get a picture of yours.
During your exchange, it’s essential to stay calm and collected. Do not apologize or take the blame in any way, even if you’re sure that the accident was your fault. Doing so can make you personally liable should a court case arise.
Don’t hesitate to record the conversation if you feel the other person is hostile or unwilling to share information.
The benefit of everyone having smartphones is that you can document the accident right away. Take photos of the damage, the surrounding area, and anything else you feel might be pertinent to your claims.
As you do this, be sure to capture the license plate number and details about the other car involved. Note things like what direction the vehicles were traveling at the time of the incident, the weather, the address of the accident, and the police on the scene.
Make Plans for Transport
If your car is deemed safe to drive away from the scene, do so. Otherwise, you need to plan transport for your vehicle and for yourself.
Call a tow truck company to have your vehicle moved if the authorities on the scene are done processing it. Have someone come pick you up and make your first stop is the medical center.
Get Assessed By a Doctor
Getting examined by a doctor is essential after an accident, even if you feel fine. Things like whiplash and internal bleeding tend to be painless at first and can go undetected.
According to zavodnicklaw.com, visiting the doctor creates a record of your injury that you might need later for compensation or time off work. The stronger your paper trail, the better.
Report to Your Insurance Provider
The next thing you should do in the hours immediately following your accident is to report it to your insurance provider. They will likely have a series of questions to ask you about the events.
Some insurance providers have apps that you can use to report an accident and upload your images. Call the number on your insurance policy card, and they’ll be able to tell you how to file a claim.
Contact Your Employer
Don’t forget to contact your employer, especially if you were on the way to work. They may require a doctor’s note if your accident has resulted in you missing scheduled time. Depending on how you feel, you may not be able to perform your duties for a period of time after the incident.
Get Some Rest
After the adrenaline surge wears off, you’ll likely feel a significant drop in your energy levels— this is natural. You might also start to feel any injuries you sustained during the accident, which were masked by the hormones flooding your bloodstream earlier on.
Give yourself permission to rest. Use this opportunity to lay on the couch and watch television, or have a nap. Periods of rest is when your body does its best healing.
Listen to Your Body and Mind
Pay attention to the signals your body and mind send you in the days and weeks following the accident. Don’t push yourself if you feel physical pain and discomfort.
It’s natural to feel anxious or unsafe after a car accident, even in a minor collision. If you notice that you’re acting out of character, consider seeking follow up care and professional assistance. It’s estimated that over 30% of people who experience a non-fatal accident develop mental health problems as a result, ranging from anxiety to PTSD.
The fallout of a car accident can be emotionally, physically, and financially taxing. Keep clear documentation of the events and take care of yourself in the time following the incident.