No one plans to get into a car accident. You can drive carefully, take defensive courses, but at the end of the day you can’t control what others do on the road. A car accident might be outside of your control, but knowing how to respond when an accident is paramount.
Having a car accident can have life-altering implications. Serious injuries could be permanent, which means you’ll need to seek car accident compensation. If you are at fault, you could be facing criminal and civil penalties. At the very least, you’ll be sorting through the damages to your vehicle, which is rarely cheap. How you react immediately following an accident can have an impact on all of these issues.
We are going to assume you are conscious after the accident. If not, you really don’t have the ability to do anything about your situation. Odds are that you’ll have some degree of shock and if you have injured passengers, you are likely to be panicked. Try to keep calm. The first and only really critical step is the first one, get to or seek safety. Everything else after this step is to help you abate financial/legal headaches down the road, but if you don’t make it past step number one, financial difficulties are the least of your worries.
Immediately following the crash, you’ll need to assess the situation. The first thing you want to determine is if you are still in any danger. Did the accident leave you in the middle of the road? Is the engine still running? Is there fire anywhere? Answering these questions is easy, but deciding what to do can be hard.
Moving your vehicle might mean having less evidence to prove your side of the unfolding events. However, if your car is in the middle of a highway, not moving your car could mean injuring other motorists, further damaging your car and possibly even extending liability to yourself. Turning your vehicle off will help prevent a car fire or explosion.
If your vehicle is immoveable or on fire you’ll want to vacate the car and get to a safe distance. Make sure passengers are also safely away from the scene of the accident. If you are injured and cannot move, call for help.
Call the Police
Once you and your passengers are safe, call the police. Regardless of the severity, if there is property damage during the car accident, you’ll want the police to investigate and create an official report. This will also be your opportunity to request medical assistance and roadside service.
People are sometimes tempted to leave the police out of an accident. If you are not at fault, it will probably be suggested by the offending motorist. However, if you are not at fault, it’s risky to not have a police report.
It’s important to understand the vital role a police report plays. It’s an impartial investigation of the immediate accident. The policeman will assess the damages to determine the cause and make record. He will get statements that can be used in court and talk to witnesses. The identity and contact information of the parties involved will be verified and recorded. If traffic violations are the cause of an accident, the police officer might issue a citation which makes proving liability much easier.
If you don’t get a police report, you risk a he said/she said legal battle and no way for parties involved to investigate the scene of the accident. If another motorist acted negligently and caused an accident be aware that they have every incentive to persuade you not to get the police involved. After all, they face the full burden of paying property damage and maybe a citation. While it benefits guilty parties to avoid a police report, you have everything lose and nothing to gain by avoiding one.
Bet a police report.
Take Notice of Others Involved in the Accident
Hopefully at this point, everyone involved in the accident is alright and in one piece. At this point, I’d suggest taking note of the party that caused you to be involved in the accident (assuming that it is not you). Hit and runs are common occurrences and if the perpetrators aren’t caught you can be left covering the costs of repairs caused by someone else.
Get the driver’s license plate number. Pay attention to their physical description. If the negligent motorist abandons the scene of the accident, you want to give the police enough information for them to find the perpetrator.
Don’t Discuss the Accident with The Other Drivers
It can take a while for the police to arrive if the accident isn’t serious. It’s good manners to check on all the other drivers involved. However, you want to avoid taking about the accident.
There are two reasons for this piece of advice. First, you don’t know the temperament and personalities of the other drivers. Bringing up the accident could lead to verbal conflict. Second, you don’t want to say anything that could cause you legal troubles down the road. I’m not saying you should lie about events that happened, but let the police sort out the investigation. After all, that is what they do for a living.
There are 10.6 million car accidents in the US every year. While being a party to a car accident might be outside your control, knowing what to do after a car accident will help keep you safe and potentially avoid you legal headaches down the road.