The number of car accidents in the US remains exceptionally high, in spite of modern safety advancements, new rules and regulations, and safe driving awareness campaigns. The statistics show that around 6 million accidents will occur each year, leading to approximately 100 lives lost every single day, and many other injuries too.
Even if you drive safely, following the rules, keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, you still might find yourself involved in an accident due to the recklessness or negligence of others, or the difficult conditions of the road itself. In either case, it helps to know what to do if an accident occurs in order to protect your rights and keep yourself safe.
It’s normal to panic and stress in those kinds of situations, and if you happen to be suffering from any kind of injury, such as whiplash or broken bones, the stress can be made even worse. However, if you are able to move around and get out of the vehicle, there are some key steps that need to be followed to help you get through this difficult moment with the least amount of risk.
Stay At The Scene
The first and one of the most important steps of responding to any kind of auto accident is to stay at the site of the accident, as it’s illegal to leave the scene of a crash. If your vehicle is blocking the road and it’s safe to move it, you can drive it over to the side, but you shouldn’t drive away or leave the scene without at least stopping to check on yourself, your passengers, and the other driver.
If you or any of your passengers are suffering from any kind of pain or have difficulty moving, stay where you are and what for the emergency services to arrive. If you’re able to move, meanwhile, try to get out of the car and away to a safe spot on the side of the road. At that point, once you’re out of harm’s way, you’ll be able to call the police and report the incident.
Report The Accident
Following on from the point above, you should always report an accident to the police. Even if it’s a relatively minor collision and nobody seems hurt, it’s wise to let the police know about it for several reasons. Firstly, by filing a report of the accident, you’ll have something official to refer to later on, should the case end up in court.
Secondly, police will be able to arrive on the scene if needed in order to provide guidance and assistance, as well as calming any angry drivers in the area, taking statements from the drivers involved, speaking to witnesses, and so on. All of this information could be very useful to you, later on, should you decide to contact a car accident lawyer.
Document The Scene
Documenting the scene is another essential step to follow after an auto accident of any kind, and it’s always one of the most overlooked or easily forgotten parts of the process. Of course, if you’re physically injured, there’s no need to force yourself into taking photos and so on, but as long as you’re physically able to do so, try to document as much as you can.
Use your phone or a camera to take photos of the accident scene, making sure to photograph any damage that has been done to your vehicle, any visible injuries, any broken glass or headlights, and so on. Naturally, you might feel quite panicked and concerned during this moment, but every photo you take can help to build a stronger case, later on, so try to do as much as you can and speak with any witnesses nearby too.
Next, it’s important to exchange information with the other driver, making sure you get their name, contact details, and insurance information. You may also want to note down their license plate number and take some photos of their vehicle too during the documenting step outlined above.
This part of the process is essential in order to ensure that you can file a successful insurance claim for any damages to your vehicle, and the sooner you let your insurance provider know about what happened, the better. This is also the stage where you may want to consider contacting an attorney and asking for legal advice on how to proceed with the matter.
Visit A Doctor
There are many kinds of car crash injuries that don’t appear right away, and a lot of auto accident victims seem to feel fine in the immediate aftermath of the incident, only to later start feeling pain and realizing that something is wrong. This is why it’s so important to visit a doctor, even if you think you feel fine. The same rule applies to any passengers who were involved in the crash as well.
A doctor will be able to carry out some simple tests to check for any injuries, diagnosing you as needed, and making any recommendations as well regarding what you should do next. You should be sure to follow the doctor’s guidance to the letter, as failing to do so could put your health at risk and potentially lead to more complications further down the road.
Nobody wants to find themselves in an accident, and the best way to avoid them altogether is to drive safely, follow the rules, be aware of your surroundings, and always keep your eyes on the road. However, if an accident does occur, you need to know how to react.
Keep these tips in mind, remembering the importance of documenting everything, reporting the matter to the police, and getting any medical care you need, even you don’t feel any pain right away. You may also want to contact a lawyer quickly to avoid making any legal mistakes that could jeopardize your chances of a successful claim later on.