In the United States alone, there are more than 6 million car accidents every single year, on average.
However, just because they’re common, that doesn’t mean that the experience is not emotionally (and physically) hard to handle. So, is there anything you can do to make the experience easier? Yes!
By doing some research about what happens after a car accident, you can help keep a calm and level head in the aftermath of a car crash.
This guide is here to help you do just that. Keep reading to learn about what to do after a car accident, from immediately after the crash, to the weeks following it.
Stay Calm and Evaluate
Getting into a car accident can rattle even the most experienced driver. In the moments after a crash, the most important thing to do is try to stay calm.
Of course, this is easier said than done. After the immediate impact, take a few deep breaths to steady your heart rate. Then, do a mental scan of your body.
Do you feel any sharp pains? Can you see or feel blood? Do you feel like you can safely move? After evaluating yourself, check in with any other passengers in the car.
Then, evaluate the state of the car. Does it look like you can safely exit it? Do you smell gas or smoke? If it’s safe to do so, get out of the car as soon as you can.
Check for Injuries
After determining that you’re ok to move around and that you can exit the vehicle, get out of the car and do a closer inspection for injuries. Right after a car accident, your body may be in shock, which can cause you to block out the pain you’d otherwise feel.
If someone else was in the car with you, have them look over your body and do the same for them. Make note of any injuries you may have, even if they seem minor at the time.
In most cases, your car accident likely involved another car. In that case, you’ll want to talk to the other driver.
Exchanging insurance information is important so you can later file a claim, but you’ll also want to exchange contact information like your names and phone numbers. You should also make note of their license plate number and the make and model of their car.
Remember, it’s always better to have more information than not enough, so even if something doesn’t seem important in the moment, write it down, just in case.
Talk to Police Officers and Witnesses
Even if the accident doesn’t seem to be a serious one, it’s a good idea to file a police report. Once an officer arrives at the scene, talk through your version of what happened so it’s on file.
You’ll want to write down the officer’s name and badge number, in case you need it again later.
You should also talk to any witnesses that saw the accident and get their information as well. The witnesses may also talk to the police officer, to help paint a clearer picture of what happened.
One of the many wonderful things about having a smartphone is that you have a compact camera with you, no matter where you go. This is important for helping you to document the accident.
Take pictures of your vehicle and any damage it incurred. Also, take photos of the other vehicle. This can be useful in case the other driver tries to make a claim for damage that is not valid.
You should also take photos of where the accident took place, which gives more context to the accident. This is helpful when filing a claim with an insurance adjuster and should you need to back up your claims in court.
File an Insurance Claim
Once you’ve documented as much as you can, you’ll want to reach out to your car insurance agent to file a claim. They’ll ask you for details about the accident and they can give you an approximation of what your insurance covers.
In some cases, your coverage might include a tow truck to take your car away from the scene or a rental car while repairs are finished.
Your agent can help you answer any specific questions you have about coverage.
Seek Medical Attention
After every car accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as you leave the scene, even if you’re not hurt. Sometimes, you may have internal injuries without realizing it, which can lead to serious problems later.
Or you might feel fine at first, but injuries could develop later if you don’t get checked out. It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health.
Start by visiting your primary care physician for guidance. Then, if you’re dealing with back or neck pain, consider visiting a chiropractor for additional treatment.
Consider Taking the Case to Court
Depending on the specifics of the accident, you might need to take the case to court. This can happen if you feel the other driver was negligent or if you’re dealing with injuries as a result of the crash.
If you think you might have a court case, contact a few attorneys that specialize in car accidents or personal injury claims. They can help you decide if your case is worth pursuing and if you might be owed compensation as a result of the accident.
Many lawyers offer a free consultation, so you can get more information before deciding if you need to move forward with your case.
Now You Know What Happens After a Car Accident
Getting in a car accident is always traumatic, but knowing what happens after a car accident can help you feel more prepared if it happens to you. By following this checklist in the wake of a crash, you can ensure you don’t overlook anything.
For more helpful information like this, make sure to browse through our other articles before you go.