On average, most of us will be involved in a car crash once every 17 years.
That means many of us will have to deal with the stressful and even painful repercussions of a car collision multiple times throughout our lives. And with about three million people suffering non-fatal injuries in car collisions each year, it’s safe to say it’s a good idea to know what to do in the case of a vehicle accident injury.
When you’re blindsided by a car accident, navigating the next steps can feel overwhelming. It’s important to know what to do after a car accident injury—so follow our seven-step guide.
1. Check You and Your Passengers for Injuries
Anytime you’re involved in a car accident, the first thing you should do is check yourself and your passengers for injuries.
You’ll need to call 911 for police services, but if anyone is injured you’ll also want to request emergency medical services as well. Use your car first aid kit to perform basic first aid if the injuries warrant it.
2. Ensure Your Safety on the Road
If it’s safe to do so, you should leave your car right where it is. When the police arrive, it’s helpful for them to be able to see the exact placement of any involved vehicles after the crash.
However, there are times when leaving your car in place would endanger your safety or the safety of other motorists, such as the middle of a busy intersection.
In these cases, you should take a photo of the vehicles’ placement if you can safely do so. Then, move your car a limited distance away if it’s still driveable. Do not leave the immediate vicinity.
Turn on your hazard lights to increase your car’s visibility.
3. Gather Evidence of the Car Accident
While you wait for the police to arrive, take your phone to collect photo and video evidence of the accident. You should also talk to the other driver to get critical information from them. Here are the details you should collect:
- The other party’s insurance information, driver’s license number, and contact details
- The color, make, and model of the other vehicle
- The licence plate and VIN of the other vehicle
- The contact details of any witnesses
- Photo or video evidence of relevant traffic signs and signals
- Photo or video evidence of damage to both vehicles
- Photo or video evidence of your injuries and those of any passengers
- A copy of the police report once complete, or information on how to request one
If possible, take a few minutes to jot down notes of everything you can remember about the accident. Strong emotions and adrenaline can affect our recall, so writing down any relevant details will keep them top of mind. Don’t forget to add any information about the weather conditions or any erratic driving patterns you noticed with the other driver.
4. Be Careful What You Say to Police and Other Drivers
Once the police arrive, you should cooperate and answer their questions in full. If you moved your vehicle, be sure to show them any photo or video evidence relevant to the placement of your cars just after the accident.
As you talk to the police and to the other drivers, do not apologize for the accident or admit fault in any way. If you want to bring a claim later, these verbal declarations will work against you.
You also should never say you weren’t injured, as this can be used against you as well. Even if you haven’t detected noticeable pain yet, you need to remember that accident injuries may not show up right away.
5. Call Your Insurance Company to Report the Accident
You are required to call your insurance company to report an accident within 24 hours.
It may be helpful to do this at the accident scene, especially if you’re waiting for the police write-up anyway. Your insurance agent can help you start the claim process and tell you what to expect from it.
6. See a Doctor for Your Vehicle Accident Injury
Make sure to have a doctor check out your injuries as soon as possible following the accident. If your injuries aren’t severe, take some time and do your due diligence to find an experienced car accident injury doctor.
As mentioned above, don’t forget that car accident injuries may be subtle. Some may not show up right after the accident, so you should have someone check you over whether or not you are in pain.
Common car accident injuries include bruises, scrapes, and broken bones. However, you’ll also want to rule out the possibility of a car accident head injury, which can be harder to detect on your own.
In addition to safeguarding your health, a medical check-up will also help you document your injuries for your insurance claim and legal follow-up.
7. Speak to a Lawyer About Your Options
Depending on the situation, you might want to contact a lawyer to help you through the legal aftermath of your accident.
An attorney can give you expert advice if the insurance company presents a settlement offer, and they can also help you negotiate for a higher offer. They can also advise you on whether or not it’s in your best interest to file a lawsuit.
Whatever you decide, make sure to reach out as soon as possible. The statute of limitations differs from state to state, and you’ll need to bring any claim before it expires. Don’t forget that it can take an attorney a great deal of time to investigate the circumstances of your accident when filing a claim.
Reach Out for the Help You Need
When you’ve suffered a vehicle accident injury, the aftermath can be hectic and overwhelming. The resulting paperwork, medical issues, financial strain, and tough decisions can even make you feel isolated or alone.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for the help you need, whether that’s the expert help of a legal or medical professional or the support of a loved one. Having someone at your back can help you keep a cool head in an otherwise emotional time.
If you’re looking for more of the guides you’ll need for the tough times in life, we’ve got you covered. Check out our other posts for more tips.