Steps to Take After a Car Accident [Infographic]
Did you know there are more than 6 million car accidents on the road every year in the United States alone? No one likes to think about getting in an accident, but it’s important to be prepared in case you ever do. What do you need to do after you’ve been in an accident? Take a look at our “What to Do After a Car Accident” checklist!
Step 1 — Don’t Leave
This step is probably the most important one to remember, even if you don’t know what to do when you get in a fender bender. Don’t ever leave the scene of an accident, especially if someone has called emergency services.
You will be required to make a statement to police and you may need medical attention. If you leave an accident scene and someone has been injured or killed in the other car, you could face criminal charges for a hit and run.
Step 2 — Call 911
Assess your injuries. If you feel pain, don’t move — moving could make any potential injuries worse, especially those in the neck and soft tissue.
If you are not injured, leave your vehicle and check on the other drivers and passengers. Don’t forget to call 911 to report the accident and get emergency services to your location to tend to injuries and investigate the accident.
Step 3 — Insurance
Once you’ve called the police, your next step is to exchange insurance information with the other driver, and to contact your insurance company to let them know you’ve been in an accident.
Most likely, your insurance company will ask you to contact them again after you’ve filed your police report. Don’t apologize or admit guilt, but at the same time, don’t make any accusations against the other drivers. It’s up to the police and the insurance company to determine how your case will proceed.
Step 4 — Witnesses
It isn’t always possible to do so, but if you can, make sure you speak to any witnesses who saw the accident and gather their contact information.
Another good idea is to ask if the witnesses have seen any accidents in that location before. Blind spots, poor lighting and incorrectly programmed traffic signals can all contribute to accidents, so it’s a good idea to inform the police if any of these factors are present at the scene of your accident.
Step 5 — Track
Smartphones are a godsend when it comes to car accidents, because they enable you to take pictures of the damage and any visible injuries. Pictures help you keep track of damages over time, which is valuable information for your insurance company.
Make sure you get a doctor to see you as soon as possible after the accident. Not only can soft tissue injuries take days or weeks to start showing symptoms, but the longer you wait to make your appointment, the harder it can be to attribute the injuries directly to the car accident.
A paper trail is your friend. Keep any paperwork you receive — whether it’s a diagnosis from your doctor or a repair estimate from your mechanic — in a safe place. You may not end up needing any of it, but if your case goes to court, a paper trail is an invaluable tool.
Step 6 — Hire
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer — especially if someone is injured. Having a lawyer in your corner can be extremely useful if the other driver decides to sue for damages or anything else. Even if you don’t end up needing their services, taking time to consult with a lawyer after an accident can protect you in the long run.
No one wants to get in a car accident, but if it does happen, it’s important to know what to do when a car hits your car. Don’t panic, call 911 and consult with a lawyer to make sure all your bases are covered as you heal and your car gets repaired.