There are a lot of car accidents in the United States every year: 6 million in fact. An accident can result in something as mild as simple dents and scratches, a personal injury, or in serious cases even death. When the moment of an accident comes, it can be hard to think carefully and clearly about what you need to do. Should you call an ambulance? Should you get an automotive attorney or an accident lawyer? What does the law say?
If you think about what you need to do in advance, it?ll make it a lot easier not to panic in a serious situation. Here are five things to think about in advance so you?re prepared if you?re ever in a car accident.
Stop and Protect
Even if the accident seems like a small one, never drive away unless you are in immediate danger. Something very serious might have happened that you didn?t see, or you could be hurt far worse than it seems initially. Don?t move your car after the accident unless you are in danger or are putting other people in danger.
If you?re unhurt, do whatever you can to protect yourself from any further accidents; especially at night. Keep the flashers of your car on, or put out emergency cones or flares if you have them. If you have a flashlight, keep it on to alert passing drivers to your presence.
Call Emergency Services
If you can, call 911 for an ambulance if you or anyone else seems to be injured. If there doesn?t seem to be any emergency, you should still call the police as soon as everything is safe. You?ll need a police report for your insurance company, and the police are the best ones to evaluate what happened. You might also need damage and police reports for your automotive attorney or personal injury lawyer.
Tell the Truth and Take Pictures
Be aware that two people can have a completely different memory of an event. This is normal because we notice different things and have different perspectives. But you should still tell the police what you remember as accurately as possible.
Don?t speculate. Don?t try to guess about anything you didn?t actually see yourself. If they ask you a question you are unsure about, simply say you don?t know or aren?t sure. And if you are in a position to do so, take picture of the car and its damage, any other vehicles involved, and any visible injuries you might have. If you need to pursue a car accident case later, your automotive attorney may be able to use pictures from the event.
Exchange Information With Everyone Involved
If the accident wasn?t serious, the police may not come at all. If that happens, be sure to get the name and contact information for all drivers and passengers and the insurance information from any other drivers.
Once you have that info, be sure to call your own insurance company immediately and tell them everything you know. If there was a police report, it will have a number which you should also give to your insurance company.
Throughout the situation, be sure to protect yourself. If another person is becoming aggressive or belligerent, keep away from them and do nothing to antagonize them. If necessary, sit in your locked car until the police arrive. In rare cases, you might have to leave the scene if someone is acting violently. If that happens, be sure to tell the police immediately.
Another important way to protect yourself is to consider getting a consultation with your automotive attorney. A lawyer can help you determine what your next step should be, if anything, and can also help with communication and arbitration if that becomes necessary.
Car accidents can be very stressful. Minimize that stress when it comes by thinking through in advance who you?ll call and what you?ll do in the event of an accident.