7 Things You Should Do after a Car Accident

Driving can be a dangerous activity. Because we do it so often, it feels quite ordinary, but in actuality, accidents occur every day. Most of us get frustrated by seeing accidents on the road because it means delays in getting to our destination. Even if we are careful drivers, we can’t control others on the road.

In the event of an accident, it is important to remember that you are in charge of your safety and the safety of others while on the road. If you’re involved in a car accident, it is vital to have some knowledge about what to do afterward. A few simple things can go a long way in keeping yourself and others safe following the incident.

6 Things You Should Do after a Car Accident. Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash.

In over 20 years of driving, I’ve only been in one somewhat serious accident. We were rear-ended on the way to church, and I was not prepared for what to do afterward the accident. I made sure my kids were okay (they were mostly scared from the hard bump we’d gotten, but one had bumped her head on the back of the seat fairly hard). I didn’t have my phone, as I’d left it at home because we were just going to church, so I was unable to take pictures or call anyone. Thankfully, people from our church had seen what happened and came to help.

I was also so mad at the other driver I couldn’t even go talk to her. We had just gotten our van repaired after a hit-and-run accident, and all I could think about was going through the hassle of body shops and rental cars over again. Thankfully, the other driver admitted fault and everything was okay, but I didn’t handle the accident at all well. Although we hope it never happens to us, it’s always good to be prepared.

If you are in a car accident, here’s what you need to do.

1. Stay calm.

Following an accident, it is important to keep a cool head. Do not argue with the other driver and do not admit fault. Doing either of these things can jeopardize your case later on if you decide to pursue legal action. In most cases, it’s best to stay quiet and avoid shouldering the blame or placing the blame on another person. Simply discuss the facts and gather the necessary information.

2. Make sure you and any passengers are safe.

If someone is injured, call medical services immediately. There is a possibility that injuries that don’t look terribly severe on the surface are far more dangerous within. Unless absolutely necessary, do not move the injured passengers. Again, internal injuries could be severe and you could do more harm than good by moving an injured passenger.

Even if your children are physically okay after the accident, they are likely emotionally shaken. Take a few minutes to check in with them and reassure them that you are okay. If they are old enough, talk through what will happen next with them, as kids do better when they know what to expect. You may have to take more time over the coming days and weeks to help your child cope with the accident.

3. Gather as much information as possible.

Once you’ve ensured everyone’s safety, you need information. This includes the other driver’s name, address, insurance information, and license plate number. If you are able to, take pictures of the scene of the accident. If there are any witnesses, gather their information as well. They can help verify details about the accident later.

Images of the scene are extremely important, especially for insurance or police purposes. If you have to move your car (for example, if your accident occurred on a busy interstate and it’s imperative that you don’t stop the flow of traffic), photographs can help figure out what happened and the severity of the accident.

4. Contact law enforcement.

Even if the accident is minor and both drivers agree, it is often best to handle the situation by involving law enforcement. Especially if there are any injuries or if the accident is more serious, law enforcement should be contacted immediately.

Having the police involved means that the police can investigate and document potential causes of the accident. It also means that an impartial third party is involved who can get involved in cases of “he said, she said”, and prevent any fights from occurring.

The police report can also ensure that there are fewer difficulties involving car insurance. Additionally, if the individual at fault committed a traffic violation, such as running a red light, they’re immediately at fault and should receive a ticket as well as the blame for the accident.

Ensure that you note the police officer’s name, badge number, and agency the police officer represents so you have that information for your records. This information will also help you obtain the police report for your insurance records.

5. Seek medical attention.

Finally, always seek medical attention after a car accident, even if you do not feel injured. Some injuries may not surface until later and seeking medical attention is the only way to be sure that you are fully recovered (or that insurance will cover your care). You may have to book a private MRI scan if nobody takes your symptoms seriously, but in the end it’s worth it for the sake of your health.

6. Contact an attorney

After an accident, whether it’s your own car or the one involving rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, promptly contacting an attorney is also important. Immediate action ensures the preservation of critical evidence, accurate documentation of  accident details, and timely filing of claims. An attorney will understand the complexities of car accidents, including those involving rideshare services, and can navigate the various laws and regulations that apply.

Furthermore, an experienced law firm such as Slater & Zurz can offer resources and expertise in investigating the accident, reconstructing the events, and identifying all liable parties. This approach is vital in building a strong case for compensation, whether through settlement negotiations or litigation, and underscores the importance of engaging a trusted legal advocate from the onset.

7. Contact your insurance provider.

You’ll want to contact your car insurance provider immediately after the accident. They will likely want to know the other driver’s information as well as the police report number. Your insurance company will provide you with details about fixing or replacing your vehicle. If you were in a serious accident with car seats in the vehicle, you will want to replace the car seats as they may have been damaged as well.

If you follow these simple tips after a car accident, you can ensure that you and your passengers are safe and that any potential legal issues are handled correctly. Remember to always stay calm and assess the situation before taking any action. By following these guidelines, you can make the aftermath of a car accident much easier to handle.

It’s also important that you listen to your body. If you’re simply sore afterward, take some painkillers to relieve the pain, but if you’re feeling uncomfortable or if you have sudden pain and difficulty breathing, contact your doctor immediately.

In conclusion, you are in a car accident, remember the following:

  • Check on your safety and the safety of your passengers. If there are injuries, administer first aid if necessary and call for help. Do not move injured passengers unless they are in immediate danger.
  • Gather information from the other driver, including name, address, insurance information, and license plate number. If possible, take pictures of the scene of the accident.
  • Do not argue with the other driver or admit fault. Doing either of these things can jeopardize your case later on if you decide to pursue legal action.
  • Seek medical attention even if you do not feel injured. Some injuries may not surface until later and seeking medical attention is the only way to be sure that you are fully recovered.

Being in a car accident is never fun, but being fully prepared for what you need to do and how to handle the accident can keep you in good stead.

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