If you’ve been directly involved in a car accident, it can be a stressful experience. This is especially true if the accident was your fault or you were injured while driving.
However, one of the most common questions people have after an accident is: “What do I need to do now?” The following are some of the important steps you should take if you’ve been involved in a car crash.
Make sure you get the license plate
After a car accident, getting as much information as possible is important. A license tag is one of the most important information you can get from another driver after a car crash. Ensure your license plate is readable and record it somewhere so you don’t forget it later.
If you cannot get their plate number, at least write down what kind of car they were driving and any other identifying details about the motor vehicle that seems relevant (i.e. make/model, colour, etc.). Also, note whether or not the vehicle was registered in a state other than where you were driving.
Call the police
If you’ve been a victim or have been involved in an accident, the first action is to call the police. They may not always be necessary (for example, if your car was hit from behind and there’s no damage to any of the vehicles), but it’s best to err on the side of caution.
When a vehicular accident occurs, the police will respond and compile a report on what transpired. They’ll also take down witness statements that can help you later on if you decide to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against whoever caused your accident.
If anyone is injured in this car crash, paramedics will also arrive, or emergency medical personnel can be summoned by dialling 9-1-1 (the equivalent of calling 911).
Check for injuries
- Check yourself. You may be shocked and not realize it, but if you’re hurt, don’t try to treat yourself. Call 911 and wait for help. If possible, let a bystander know that you have called for assistance so they can stay with the scene until help arrives.
- Check the other drivers. If more than a single automobile is involved in your accident, check on its condition.
- Check passengers. If someone has been injured or killed, call 911 immediately to request medical attention for those who need it most urgently.
If you can safely do so, check on the passengers in any accident vehicle. If people are trapped inside, try to help them get out without endangering yourself.
If you can, move the car to a safe location
If you can move your car to a safe place, do so. If you are feeling well enough, you should try to move your vehicle out of traffic and onto the shoulder of the road as soon as possible. Some people wait for emergency responders to arrive before moving their cars or calling for help, but this is not always necessary.
If no one else is at risk, including yourself and if it’s safe for everyone involved (including your pets), consider taking control of the situation yourself.
However, if other factors make it unsafe or difficult for you to move your car, don’t risk further injury by moving on your own; instead, call 911 and wait until emergency services arrive at the scene of your accident before attempting anything else.
Document the accident
After you’ve taken care of yourself and your passengers, it’s time to gather information. You’ll need to know who was involved in the accident and their contact information so you can get in touch with them later.
- Get the names and contact information of all drivers involved in the accident, including yourself. If there are eyewitnesses who saw what happened (or even if they didn’t), make sure you ask for their info too.
- Please take photos of the scene as soon after it happened as possible. This will help establish context for whatever caused the accident; for example, if someone ran a stop sign or red light before meeting up with you head-on, this evidence can be used later when pursuing legal action against them.
Contact your insurance provider
If you have auto insurance, contact your provider immediately. Insurance companies can help you file a claim to get your car repaired and assist with any medical expenses. They can also find lawyers and process paperwork for you if necessary.
Remember that car accidents are no joke. They can be scary, inconvenient and downright painful. It helps to know what steps need to be taken after an accident so that you don’t have any surprises along the way.
You must take action after an accident. You don’t want to be caught off guard by unexpected expenses, so make sure you have a plan.
Keep your wits and stay calm
- Remain calm. In the aftermath of a crash, it’s easy to get rattled or upset and say or do something that can worsen matters. Even if you’re just one of the drivers involved in an accident, try to keep your cool. When you get to the other side, you’ll be pleased you did.
- Don’t panic, but don’t ignore the problem either: If injuries are involved with your accident, even minor ones, someone must call 911 immediately. If you can, do it yourself (you should be able to find your phone), then wait for them to arrive before rearranging any vehicles or attempting to clear any debris from the road. The police will ask questions later; there’s no reason for them not to have all their facts straight when they do so.
Remember to stay calm and call the police as soon as possible. If someone is injured, check their condition.
Ensure they receive immediate medical care if they require some. Document every detail of your accident so you can show your insurance company when it comes time for a claim later on down the line.