Every year, more than four million people are injured in car accidents in the United States. Car crashes are the number one cause of death in people aged 1-54. This makes for sobering reading, especially since an accident could affect anyone.
There are few things in life that are more stressful than being in a car crash. Nobody ever expects to find themselves in a car accident, and it can happen in a blink of an eye.
Many people claim to know what they should be doing when they’re in an accident, however, when it comes down to it, their mind goes blank. If you were to find yourself in an accident, would you know exactly what you should do?
Let’s take a deep dive into the things that you need to do immediately after you’ve been in a car accident.
What to Do if You’re in a Car Accident
If you find yourself in a car accident, the first thing you should do is to stop the vehicle. To not stop the vehicle and carry on driving is an offense.
If any of the other vehicles involved in the accident have left the scene without talking to you first, try and get a photo of their registration plate and report them to the police immediately.
Pull up and stop the engine. Then, turn your hazard lights on.
It is important that you follow all of the steps in this guide. The first few minutes after an accident are crucial, so it is essential you know what you should do and say.
One of the most challenging things to do in a stressful situation such as a car accident is to stay calm. However, following on from a car crash, there are a lot of things that you need to do. Staying calm is essential.
When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, our hypothalamus will send out stress hormones to put us into a fight, flight, or freeze state of mind. This can be unhelpful, especially when we need to think clearly.
The reason this happens is that your body will direct your blood away from your brain towards your muscles. You become reactive.
To improve the clarity of your thoughts you should take several long, deep breaths. This will not only help you get valuable oxygen to your brain, but it also sends out information to the hypothalamus that you’re in control. This causes the stress hormones to stop.
Keep breathing deeply until you feel calmer. Encourage any passengers in your car to do the same.
Check If Anyone Has Been Injured
As soon as it is safe to do so, you should check yourself and your passengers over to see whether there are any injuries.
Injuries may be slow to materialize so it is important to keep in mind that while you may feel fine right now, some of your injuries may not show up for some time to come.
You’ll also have had a natural rush of the stress hormone adrenaline. This can help to numb some of the pain that you would otherwise have been experiencing following your crash.
As the shock of the accident subsides, you may find that you develop pain.
Try your very best to remain as calm as possible. Some of the injuries that you or your passengers may experience could be quite extreme. Try to keep a level head when assessing your own injuries and any that your passengers experience.
Get Yourself and Your Passengers to Safety
Once you have assessed everyone in your vehicle for injuries, you must get yourself to safety as quickly as possible. If your accident has occurred on a busy highway, there may be passing traffic.
By getting yourself to safety, you’ll be ensuring that another accident doesn’t happen.
If you or your passengers are unable to move because of injuries, you must let the emergency services know this as they will need to prioritize helping them.
Contact the Emergency Services
As soon as you are in a safe place, you should call the emergency services. You’ll need to inform the police about the accident and you may need an ambulance. In more severe accidents, you may also need the fire service to attend too.
The police will need to investigate the crash. Your insurance company will also need reference numbers from the police. By involving the police at this stage, you will also minimize the chances of insurance fraud occurring.
If there are any obvious injuries, you’ll need an accident. Make sure you are clear when you call up about how many people you suspect of having injuries.
Where there is a vehicular fire or a person trapped in a vehicle, you should also involve the fire service in your accident.
Exchange Details With the Other Driver
Once you’ve contacted the emergency services, go and speak with any other drivers that were involved in the crash. Keep calm and don’t blame them for the accident.
There are several important pieces of information that you’ll need to get from them. You will also need to provide them with the same information.
The information you should exchange should include:
- Your name, address, and phone number
- Their insurance company and account details if known
- The make, model, and registration of every vehicle involved in the accident
You should also get the name, address, and contact details of every passenger or witness to the crash.
Don’t Apologize or Admit Fault
When talking with other drivers, you may have an inclination to apologize for the accident. Whether you believe you’re at fault or if the crash is a no-fault accident, you shouldn’t take responsibility for the accident.
It will be for the insurance companies, the police, or the courts to decide who was responsible for the accident.
You must remain calm and be polite when speaking with the other drivers involved in the accident. In such a stressful situation, tensions can build and communication can be fraught. Any arguments that may arise could exacerbate the stress of the situation.
Gather Evidence at the Scene of the Car Crash
At the scene of an accident, there will a lot of evidence that you can gather. All of this information will be essential for your insurance company and your personal injury lawyer.
Luckily, most people own their own smartphones these days. This makes it far easier to take photos and make notes.
There are a few things that you need to get photos of. First of all, you should take photos of any damage to any of the vehicles that have been involved in the crash.
Get the clearest images possible, and if you can, get a mixture of close-ups and long shots that will show the full extent and context of any damage.
You should also take some photos of the road. If there are skid marks, these may be relevant in any investigations that may follow after the accident.
If any of the vehicles crashed into fences, walls, or buildings, you should also take photos of this damage too.
If you are able to, make a sketch of the crash scene to show where vehicles were at impact.
Having a dashcam fitted to your car can help you out dramatically in the event of a crash. Dashcam footage drastically reduces the chances of cash scams as a result of being in an accident.
Get Yourself Checked Over By a Doctor
It is not uncommon for people to walk away from accidents feeling as though they have no injuries. As previously mentioned, stress hormones and shock can cause a delay in any pain that you may experience.
Whether you feel that you’ve been injured or not, you must ensure that you get yourself looked over by a doctor at the earliest convenient opportunity.
If an ambulance is in attendance after the accident, you can get yourself checked out by a paramedic.
Some of the delayed injuries that you might experience following a car accident include:
- Abdominal injuries
- Back pain
- Numbness and tingling
A doctor or paramedic will know exactly what to check for following on from a car accident.
You may also experience referred pain. This is where you feel pain in one part of your body, but have an injury in another part of the body.
By getting a full assessment, you’ll be able to find out the full extent of your injuries. It is essential that you know about the injuries that you and your passengers have sustained before you speak with your insurance company or a personal injury lawyer.
Call Your Insurance Company
You should get in touch with your insurance company to report your accident while the accident is still fresh in your mind. It is very important that you contact your insurance company as soon as possible. This should ideally be on the day of the accident.
Before you accept any settlement or sign any important paperwork from your insurance company, speak with a personal injury lawyer. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to lowball you on the amount you’ll get as a payout.
Having a car accident lawyer on your side will mean you’ll not sign away your legal rights without realizing it.
Hire a Car Accident Attorney
If you have been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you should make a call to a car accident lawyer. Appointing an attorney is one of the most important things you should do after you have been in an accident.
It is important that you get the right type of lawyer. Hire an attorney that specializes in personal injury if you have been hurt as a result of the crash. A specialist in car accidents will have experience in getting results in this type of case.
You may get offered an out-of-court settlement by the other driver’s insurance company. It is important that you take advice from your lawyer before getting swayed into taking a quick settlement.
You may well be selling yourself short if you take a payout too early on. A good attorney will be able to let you know if your case is strong enough to hold off for a larger payout.
Don’t Talk About Your Accident or Claim on Social Media
After you have been in a car crash, you should take care to not talk about your accident or claim anywhere on social media.
It may be tempting to let off steam or let friends and family know what is going on in the case, however, you need to be aware that insurance companies may be looking at your social media activity to build up a case against you.
It’s very common for insurance adjusters to use people’s social media activity as evidence.
What to Do If You’ve Been In a Car Crash
If you’ve been in a car crash, remain calm. Get yourself to safety as quickly as possible. Check for injuries. Be aware that some injuries may not materialize straight away.
Call the emergency services straight away and exchange details with any other drivers. Get contact details from any witnesses. Once you’ve done this, start to gather evidence at the scene of the accident.
Call your insurance company and hire a car accident lawyer.
By following all of these steps, you’ll be in the best position following a car crash.
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