Accidents happen. It’s a common phrase people say after many possible events.
“I dropped your phone.”
“No worries, accidents happen, it’s got a strong case on it.”
“My child knocked over some books on your bookshelf while playing.”
“Hey, accidents happen. I’ll put them back up.”
“I ate all the cookies.”
“You did that on purpose.”
While you’re never expecting an accident, you can at least know the right steps to take after an accident occurs. Car accidents are incredibly common and incredibly costly. In the U.S. alone, car crash damages totaled up to about $100 billion. You may know how to take care of your car but not know what you should do when it’s been in an accident.
You hope you’ll never get in one, but here are the steps that you should take after being involved in a car accident.
A Quick Health Check
Before you do anything, you’ll want to make sure you’re safe, even if you have passengers. It’s just like putting on the oxygen mask in a plane: take care of yourself first then help others.
Check to see if you’re bleeding or if you notice any broken bones. If you have any extreme pain, don’t make any sudden movements.
Even if it was only a fender-bender, you may be experiencing whiplash. Don’t make any sudden movements with your neck or quick turns. Once you’ve checked yourself, check on your passengers.
Move the Car
If you can, move the car off the road so you’re not holding up traffic and so you can get out safely. The last thing you’d want is to have gone through one-car crash just to be struck by another car coming down the road.
When you do get out of the car, make sure to get far away from the car as well. Don’t stand in between the two cars as another hit could squish you between the two vehicles. Make sure and stay a safe distance from the accident.
Call the Police
You’ll want the police there for a few reasons. The first reason being they can better organize traffic and move you away from any danger, especially if you’re on a crowded highway or road. Secondly, a police report can go a long way on your insurance claims.
In addition, they’ll likely be taking down everyone’s names and contact information which may save you an extra step in the future.
You’ll want to take an accurate description of what happened, so take out your phone and take pictures of the damages as well as taking notes of what happened.
If you have a pen or pencil and something to write on in the car, try and write down the events as they transpired and even make a small drawing to demonstrate. Once again, having a paper trail in this situation will help you down the road.
If the police aren’t there, it will be up to you to collect information of the fellow driver. Not just their name and contact information, but also their insurance information. You’ll also want to get any information about passengers or witnesses.
It may seem like tedious work, but they are all things that your insurance company will be asking for at a later point.
File a Claim
Call your insurance agency, no matter what time of day it is, and file a claim. They’ll go about asking you questions about the accident and want any supporting documents to go along with it.
The more you have, the more they will be able to help you with the claim. They’ll also be able to find a tow-truck and/or mechanic that works with your insurance. That way, you’ll be able to get back on the road as soon as you can.
Consider Getting a Lawyer
If you were injured in the accident, more so than just a few bumps and bruises, you’ll probably be interested in reaching out to a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers deal with any kind of injury, whether it be emotional or physical, and are often used when it comes to auto accidents.
You’ll want a lawyer that has taken on similar cases and cares about your case instead of throwing it a pile of paperwork. Ask around and see if anyone has some recommendations, like friends, family or even the insurance company and if all of those turn up empty, contact your state’s bar association. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.