Nothing is worse than getting into a serious car accident: your car is damaged, you or your family may be hurt, and you don’t know what to do. For most people, a serious car accident is a once-in-a-lifetime event. How you handle the next few minutes may determine whether you emerge unscathed or with long-term consequences. This article may help you make the right decisions and avoid the problems that often follow a serious accident.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you need to make take the proper precautions to protect your health and your rights.
- Take Stock of Yourself – Be sure to pay close attention to how you feel after the accident. A car accident is a sudden and dramatic event and you likely will be in a state of shock. Take a deep breath, calm down and evaluate your situation. If you are not seriously injured, ask yourself how your neck and back feel. Do you have any soreness? Are you able to move all your limbs and joints without pain? What about your hands or wrists? Sometime, even a serious injury can go unnoticed for some time after an accident. If paramedics arrive at the scene, be sure to let them examine you. If you need to go to the hospital, don’t be proud. It is definitely better to get treated than to deny treatment and regret it later.
- Take Stock of the Scene – If you haven’t already, call 911 right away. If you can, move your car out of the way of traffic. If you can’t move your car, stay in the vehicle and turn on your flashers. Make sure to keep your seatbelt on. If you can move your vehicle, move it out of the way of oncoming traffic and check on the passengers in the other vehicle. Make sure everyone is ok. Be sure to keep a lookout for other oncoming vehicles.
- Take Stock of the Other Drivers – The best time to get information about the accident is at the accident itself. You will want to get the following information from the other people involved:
- Phone number
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver license and license plate number
- Contact information of the owner of the vehicle
- Photograph the Accident – In the age of the cell phone, there is no reason not to document an accident with photographs. Take pictures of your car, the other car, skid marks, the scene of the accident, and anything else you think might be pertinent. Remember, accidents take place within the context of a location, time, weather and other factors. Try to get the whole scene documented for later.
- Keep Quiet – The less you say to the other drivers, the better. Don’t admit that the accident was your fault, even if you think it might have been. Give a statement to the police and give your version of the accident, but don’t say any more than you have to.
- File a Report – A good accident report can go a long way to helping a lawyer evaluate your case. If the police arrive on the scene, give them your information and give them your version of events. Be sure to tell them if you have been injured and give them a full account of the accident.
- Inform your Insurance Carrier – Your insurance may cover the damage to your car, damage to the other driver’s car, some medical bills, and even defense of a potential lawsuit. To get these benefits, however, you need to give your insurance carrier notice of the accident as soon as possible.Remember, a car accident is a traumatic thing, but by making a few smart choices, you can make it a little less painful. If you’ve been injured, call in the sharks. We can help you put the pieces back together after an accident and put things right.