Being in a car accident is one of the worst things you can experience. Car accidents are always unexpected and frequently leave victims with injuries, damaged cars, and emotional trauma. The shock of being in an accident can also leave you feeling frantic and unsure of what to do.
Today’s blog is all about providing you with a step-by-step guide to handling the aftermath of a car crash. Memorizing or writing down these steps will help you appropriately respond to a car accident.
Step 1: Pull Over
You should get your car out of the way of traffic as quickly as possible. You might already be in a good place, depending on where the accident occurs. It should be a safe, public area with good lighting where you can exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident.
If you can’t drive your car, try pushing it to a safe place. The sidewalk is better than leaving it in the middle of the road. But if even that is impossible, at least get yourself to safety.
Step 2: Remember Everyone Else
It’s easy to get lost in your own world when you’ve suffered a traumatic experience. But it’s essential to take care of your kids, elders, and any disabled passengers. Make sure they get to safety with you.
If it’s a beautiful day outside, you can roll down the windows and leave everyone in the car if it’s safe to do so. For example, if your vehicle is on fire, it’s not safe for anyone to be in the car. If you need to get a young child out of the car quickly, lift out their car seat (with them in it). They could be injured, so keeping them stable in their car seat is important.
If a paralyzed individual is with you, get their mobility device to them as quickly as possible and help them if they need it.
Step 3: Call 9-1-1
Once you and your passengers are safe, you should call 9-1-1. It might seem over the top if the car accident is a fender bender, but you should still call the police.
When you’re on the phone with the 9-1-1 operator, you’ll need to provide basic information, including who you are and where you are. Look for nearby street signs, house markers, highway exit signs, and mile markings to determine where you are.
The police will respond to your call by coming to the accident scene and examining it. Law enforcement will assign fault (to either or both parties) and fill out an accident report. An ambulance will accompany the officers for anyone who might be injured.
The ambulance typically comes whether or not you request one. Some injuries are apparent, but others aren’t. Emergency first responders will detect injuries, stabilize you, and safely transport you to the hospital if your injuries are severe enough.
If the police can’t come to the accident scene for some reason, we highly recommend going to the nearest police station and filing a report. That report will help you with the claims process and protect you if the other driver sues you.
Step 4: Don’t Admit Fault or Make Deals
After calling the police, you’ll want to exchange information with the other driver. You should be fine doing this without the police, provided that the other driver isn’t angry with you. Be sure to get the other driver’s license number and car insurance information. You’ll also want to note their vehicle’s color, make, and model.
Don’t accept any deals from the other driver–including cash offers. They might have compelling reasons, like telling you they’re underinsured or uninsured. But no matter what they say, you should insist on getting their insurance and ID information.
You shouldn’t admit fault, either, even if you are to blame. Let your insurance company hash it out with the other driver’s insurance.
Step 5: Take Lots of Photos
Once you’ve exchanged information, you’ll want to collect all the proof. That means taking photos of the accident scene from every angle and position. You’ll want the images to show the accident from your perspective and theirs.
Step 6: Seek Medical Attention
You’re allowed to leave the accident scene once the drivers finish exchanging information and the police have filled out their report and dismissed you.
The first stop you should make is your local urgent care. Tell them you’ve been in a car accident and ask for a physical examination. This quick stop at the doctor’s office will create a trail of evidence if you’ve sustained injuries.
Receiving immediate medical care blocks the other driver’s insurance company from saying that your injuries are unrelated to the accident. This step is essential, even if first responders examined you at the accident scene.
Of course, this step is unnecessary if you’re injured enough to be in the hospital.
Step 7: File an Auto Insurance Claim
If necessary, you’ll want to file an auto insurance claim. This could be with your insurance company or the other driver’s. While your medical care comes first, this should be your second priority. If you want to settle with the other driver, the insurance companies need to be involved.
Filing an auto insurance claim involves providing the insurance company with the accident details. You can call the insurance company or file a claim through their website or mobile app.
Step 8: Repairs and Recovery
The insurance companies will assign fault, and you’ll get your vehicle repaired or replaced if the accident is too severe. If you live in a no-fault state, your insurance’s personal injury protection will cover you based on what coverage you selected when you signed up.
If you live in an at-fault state, and the accident was the other driver’s fault, their insurance company will cover your repairs. If the accident were partially your fault, you would have to pay for some of your repairs. If it were entirely your fault, you’d be in charge of all of your repairs.
Step 9: Contact Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton to Sue
If you want to sue the other driver for the accident, you’ll want to hire an attorney experienced in personal injury lawsuits. Common reasons for wanting to sue after an accident include negligent behavior or pain and suffering.
If this is you, call Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton. We’ve represented car accident victims for over 25 years. We offer free case evaluations, where we walk you through the lawsuit process and determine how we can best help you.
We understand how difficult it can be to recover from the effects of a car accident. Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton is here to help you through this challenging time. Contact us today!