Every year, six million car accidents occur on average in the US. It only takes a few seconds of distraction to end up in a wreck.
You might think you’re the safest driver on the road, until you find yourself in your first car accident. Trying to navigate the steps you need to take with no experience behind you can feel daunting. Your injuries could even make it difficult for you to think clearly.
Prepare yourself before you’re in a minor car crash. With these 10 tips, you can respond safely and quickly after an accident.
1. Move to Safety
The first thing you need to do after your first car accident is to move to safety.
Take a breath, focus, and put your hazard lights on. Then, make sure the car is safe to drive. If it’s not, leave your car where it is.
Otherwise, move your car to the side of the road or the nearest safe area where both you and the other vehicle can park.
During this step, it’s important to prioritize your safety above all else.
With a minor car crash, it’s usually safe to move your vehicles out of traffic. However, you might feel wary about moving your vehicle if the crash was more intense. If so, consider waiting for the police to arrive.
They’ll let you know how to proceed.
Otherwise, make sure to remain at the scene of the crash. Leaving could put you in legal danger. For example, you could face criminal penalties if the crash was a hit-and-run accident.
You might also find yourself in legal danger if someone sustained injuries as a result of the crash.
Instead of leaving, pull your vehicle into a safe area and wait for the police to arrive on the scene.
2. Assess Everyone’s Injuries
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, take stock of everyone’s injuries. Was anyone injured? If so, call for medical attention immediately.
In the case of a minor car crash, you might feel you don’t need an expert medical opinion.
However, there are many cases where you won’t recognize pain symptoms until weeks after the crash. For example, if you were rear-ended, you might have experienced whiplash. You might not notice in your back or neck until weeks after the accident.
If someone was severely injured, don’t move them right away. Instead, have a licensed medical professional assess the situation. Otherwise, moving the injured party might cause serious neck or back injuries.
3. Call the Police
Not sure what to do after a car accident that’s not your fault? Regardless of who or what caused the accident, make sure to call the police as soon as possible. You’ll need their official police report to cover your bases legally.
Some states actually require you to file a police report, even after a minor car crash. Make sure you understand your state’s local laws, as they vary based on your local. When it doubt, call the police.
Once the police arrive, they’ll assess the scene and interview all involved parties. Make sure they file an official police report that captures the details of the crash. This report should include any:
- Physical injuries
- Property damage
Once the officer is done filing their report, ask for their name, badge number, and their card. Keep these details for your own records. Take the time to ask them for a copy of the report as well.
If you plan on making a case for yourself after the crash, that report is essential.
4. Avoid Small Talk
As you wait for the police to arrive, don’t feel the need to make small talk with the other party. Instead, limit conversation as much as possible.
When you do have to talk, don’t admit fault and don’t apologize.
Don’t offer your opinion about what happened. You’re not obligated to talk about the injuries you sustained during the car crash aftermath, either. Instead, tell the other party only a doctor can assess your health and that you’d like to wait for the police to arrive.
5. Gather Notes
You can also collect your own information following the crash.
First, make sure to gather the other driver’s information, including their:
- License plate number
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance number
Take the time to gather information about the accident, too, including the:
- Make, model, and year of the other driver’s car
- Address of the accident
- Date and time the accident occurred
- Nearest cross street
- Road you were driving on
- Driving conditions
- Direction the other driver was headed
During the weeks following the accident, you might not remember these smaller details. Make a record of this information immediately following the accident to avoid forgetting anything.
6. Take Photos
Use photo evidence to maintain an accurate record of what happened, too.
First, you’ll need photos of your car to make an insurance claim. Take photos of how and where the cars were positioned as well. Make note of the property damage and injuries if you can.
7. Contact Your Insurance Company
During the car crash aftermath process, you’ll need to call your insurance company. Let them know you were in an accident and ask them about the next steps you need to take.
It can help to make this call while you’re still at the scene.
8. File a Claim
Your insurance agent will explain the process for making a claim after your accident. Some insurance companies even offer smartphone apps that will help you streamline the process.
9. Track Doctor Appointments
Between 20 to 50 people million are injured after a car accident every year. Whether your injuries were minor or severe, document everything. Make a note of which doctors you visited, their treatment plan, and all medical bills, too.
10. Hire an Attorney
Even a minor car crash can have expensive consequences. If the crash wasn’t your fault and you want to make a claim, you’ll need a qualified attorney.
Make sure to look for someone with experience in auto accident cases. They’ll help you navigate the process and get the compensation you deserve.
Take These Steps After a Minor Car Crash
If you were in a minor car crash, remember: everything will be okay. Follow these 10 tips and you can respond with a clear mind.
You don’t have to navigate this road alone. Contact us today to discuss making your car accident claim.