If you’ve just been in a car crash, you need to stay calm and remain focused. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and forget what you’re supposed to do. What you do in the moments after a wreck can have a huge impact on your health and your recovery, which is why every driver should know the 5 most important steps to take after a crash.
As soon as you come to a complete stop, you need to examine yourself for injuries. Slowly move your joints, stopping if you feel any pain. If you see blood or bone, call 9-1-1 immediately, telling the operator where you are and what happened.
If you are seriously injured and cannot move or the vehicle is damaged such that you cannot get out of it, remain where you are until emergency services arrive. Paramedics are best equipped to stabilize you at the scene and prevent your injuries from getting worse.
If you don’t require emergency treatment and a ride to the hospital, you’ll need to meet the other driver.
Once you get out of the vehicle, you’ll need to meet the other driver and exchange insurance information. While doing this, it’s best to avoid discussing the details of the crash and instead focus on moving forward. To complete this step, you’ll need to trade the following information:
While exchanging this information, you should call or text the other driver to verify their number. If the information isn’t copied correctly or if it is incomplete, you can rest easy knowing you have a way to contact them in the future.
At this time, you should also take pictures of the scene. Ideally, you want to get pictures of each side of both vehicles and a few pictures of where the crash occurred. This will help verify the circumstances of the crash and the severity of the damages. You may also want to get pictures of any visible injuries if you are comfortable doing so.
Regardless of whether you called for an ambulance, you should call for police assistance. A police officer on the scene will write an accident report. This is an extremely important document verifying that a crash happened, where it occurred, who was involved and may include an assessment of the damages.
The police report may also include statements from you, the other driver, passengers, and nearby bystanders who witnessed the crash. These statements are good to include in the police report because they document first-hand accounts of the crash while it’s still fresh.
If you can convince a nearby witness to provide a report, you should also ask for their phone number or email address so your attorney can contact them in the future.
Whether you leave the scene of the crash in an ambulance or under your own power, your next stop should be the doctor’s office. A doctor can examine you for injuries, including those you may not yet be aware of. After some car crashes, injuries such as internal bleeding or whiplash may not present symptoms until several days later.
Going to the doctor immediately after the accident creates medical documentation connecting your injuries to the crash. If you wait to see a doctor, the insurance company may suggest that you’re not as hurt as you claim or that your injuries are unrelated to the crash. Going to the doctor from the scene of the crash effectively eliminates this doubt.
Once you’ve left the doctor’s office, it’s time to contact a car accident attorney. When you hire an attorney to handle your case, you can focus on feeling better while they handle the phone calls, paperwork, and negotiating with the insurance company.
Having an experienced legal team can eliminate a lot of the stress and anxiety that comes with a car crash, allowing you to focus on your recovery while your attorneys take care of everything else.