Motor vehicle accidents typically happen very fast, without much time to process how they happened. However, the consequences can be devastating. Often, they are chaotic.
Continue reading for more information about the steps motorists and others involved in car accidents should take to best recover from injuries and successfully deal with the process.
First Steps Immediately Following a Car Accident
Traffic accidents usually happen so fast that it can be difficult to determine how the accident happened and who was at fault. It helps to have a general outline of first steps you should take. Of greatest importance is to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
The first steps following a car accident include:
- Remain at the scene after safely taking photographs and documenting the accident. It's important to note that leaving the scene of an accident can result in serious criminal charges.
- Check the drivers and passengers to make sure they are safe. Get medical attention for those who need it. Be careful not to move anyone with neck or back pain, as doing so could result in even worse injuries for those affected by such pain.
- Call the police if there are injuries, deaths, or significant instances of property damage. Ask that a police report be filed when they arrive on the scene.
- Exchange information with the other motorist(s) involved, passengers, and any witnesses. You'll want to get names, addresses, phone numbers, driver's license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information.
- Take pictures of the damage or any injuries. This is particularly useful when comparing how you, the other passengers, and your vehicle look after the accident versus before it.
- Contact your insurance company, keeping in mind that they may deny your claim if you fail to tell the truth.
- Track your medical treatment if you have sustained injuries. This will allow you to accurately estimate your costs and level of pain and suffering.
Taking Notes About Car Accident Injuries
Taking notes soon after a car accident, assuming you're not so seriously injured that you cannot take notes, is very important. Taking notes will help you accurately report accidents or counter dubious claims.
In your notes, you'll want to write down everything you can remember about how the accident started, how it unfolded at impact(s), and its aftermath. What were the weather conditions? Were there signs of driver impairment, an example of which could be intoxication? Was anything said after the accident that might help explain who the responsible party was?
If you have sustained an injury, write down everything you can remember about how it happened. However, also continue taking notes as symptoms come and go or as new conditions develop. Concussions and whiplash, for instance, may not be apparent at first. However, even mild symptoms may indicate a more serious injury.
Since virtually all mobile phones also have cameras, make sure you also take pictures of the damage. It's preferable that those pictures show all angles of the cars and any other visual information that would help explain what happened.
When to Report a Car Accident
There is no one right answer on whether you should report a car accident to your insurance provider, to the other driver's provider, or even if it needs to be reported at all. The rule of thumb is that most car accidents should be reported to your insurance company, especially if it's your fault, as soon as possible. Keep in mind that even a low-speed collision can cause costly but otherwise unseen damage.
Some insurance policies indicate how long insured drivers have in which to report an accident, so make sure you check your own policy if you're uncertain.
Whatever the case may be, if you need more help consider contacting a car accident attorney near you.