Car accidents are overwhelming enough by themselves, and if you’ve never been in an accident before, it can be extra stressful to know how to react in the aftermath. However, if you’re not in critical condition, it’s important to take certain steps in order to secure your safety, as well as the safety of any other passengers or drivers.
In addition to protecting yourself from further harm, you may want to consider taking action to prepare for a personal injury claim, or to secure a fair settlement from an insurance provider. From gathering preliminary evidence to investigating the details of the crash itself, our experienced attorneys at Del Rio & Caraway, P.C. can help you after a serious accident takes place, and make sure that you’ve got everything you need for a successful case.
Below, you’ll find a brief post-accident checklist that can help you in the unfortunate event of a car accident:
- Confirm your status (and the status of your other passengers.) If you’re still conscious after your crash, the most important step is to take a deep breath and perform a full mental check on yourself, plus any other passengers who were riding with you. Try to get a basic sense of the severity of everyone’s injuries, and note their consciousness levels.
- Get emergency assistance. For serious injuries, it’s critical that you call 911 and secure an ambulance right away. If you’re unsure about anyone’s condition, it’s better to call emergency services and be safe than sorry. Depending on your level of first aid training (and your own condition), you may also be able to perform CPR on victims who have no pulse or signs of breathing.
- Make sure that all vehicles are moved out of traffic. It’s also critical to move your car out of the direction of traffic, and coordinate with the other drivers to clear the road. If you’re on the highway or have suffered major injuries, this may not always be possible. However, even driving to the road shoulder could greatly reduce your risk of a repeat hit.
- Call the police and insist on an investigation. You may be reluctant to get the police involved and stay at the scene for an extended time, but it’s imperative that you contact the authorities for an accident of any size and scale. People often change their stories after the dust settles, so getting an immediate investigation when the events are still fresh can make a huge difference for your insurance claim or lawsuit later on.
- Exchange information with all involved drivers. Once your cars are out of traffic and the police and emergency vehicles are on their way, talk to the other drivers and get their information. This is perhaps one of the most crucial steps for securing compensation in a claim later, so make sure to get at least names, addresses, and license plates. If you’re in a more stable condition, you should also secure the following from the other driver(s): their insurance company, their policy number, photos of their insurance documents and driver’s license, and photos of the crash scene and vehicles.
- Get information from any witnesses. Were there pedestrians around to see your accident take place? Did the other driver have passengers that saw the event? Taking the time to ask questions and get names from any witnesses can bolster your claim, and help you get a better sense of what actually happened.
- Head to the doctor’s office or hospital. Finally, if you haven’t been picked up by emergency services, either call a tow truck or drive to urgent care for a quick check-in. Even if you feel relatively unscathed, it’s a good idea to get examined by a medical professional, as some injuries may not manifest at first.