The first few seconds of a car accident are usually a blur. Time moves either quickly or slowly, it’s hard to tell. Once everything stops, it takes a few moments to process what is going on. Once you realize you aren’t bleeding too badly you may feel a little relief; but then you remember you have passengers. How are they doing? Everybody is alive and conscious. Now what?
Your first response in a car accident
Even though your brain may be cloudy, if you are able, follow these steps immediately following an accident
• Turn on your emergency flashers
• Assess injuries
• Call for medical help if necessary
• Exit your vehicle
• Check on the other vehicle for injuries
• Call the police
• Take photos of the scene
If you are on a busy street, the first thing the officer will do when he or she arrives, if everybody is walking and talking, is move the cars to the side of the road. If you are going to gather any evidence of the accident with pictures, you need to do this before the police arrive. After you have taken pictures, if you are able and the other party doesn’t object, move your car to the side of the road before the police arrive. (For safety reasons).
Gather information on the car accident
It is difficult to assemble all the details of a car accident after the fact. Even if you are feeling happy to be alive and don’t feel like doing anything else but feel grateful, it is actually time to get to work. You need to gather the following information:
• Names, addresses, telephone numbers, and insurance information of the other drivers.
• Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses
• Don’t discuss the accident with other drivers or witnesses. Don’t say anything that would insinuate you were at fault
• Note the facts surrounding the accident, such as the time, date, location of the accident, and weather conditions. Use your cell phone as much as you need.
What to do next
• If the police have been called, stay at the scene of the accident until the responding officer says you can leave
• Report the accident to your insurance agent. Follow any advice he or she gives you
• Call your attorney if you are injured or the damages are extensive.
What to do in the first week of your car wreck
The first thing you should do if you have a residual pain from the accident is to see a doctor as soon as possible. Doctors who specialize in car accidents know what to look for. Contact your attorney to see if he has any suggestions. Some injuries like whiplash don’t become apparent until 48 hours or longer after the accident. Whiplash can get worse over time. Don’t ever become too quick to proclaim you are fine. You may not be. Make sure your other passengers do the same.
Examine the police report. If you don’t agree with it, see your attorney immediately. If you have been assigned any liability in the accident, it could affect any claims you have in the future.
If you are not by this time already working with a personal injury attorney be sure to have any offer from an insurance company reviewed by an attorney before accepting it.
A car accident can last a lifetime
Most car accidents last less than a couple seconds. Their impact however, can last a lifetime. Don’t skip any details after your accident that might affect you in the long run.