Being involved in a car accident can be a terrifying and disorienting experience. Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a serious collision, it’s important to stay calm and follow the proper steps to ensure that you and all involved parties are safe and that you protect your legal rights.
Knowing what to do in the event of a car accident can make a world of difference in how the situation resolves. Here are 7 steps to take when you’re involved in a car accident to make sure that you’re safe and have the best possible outcome.
Take a deep breath and stay calm
It’s easy to get stressed and anxious when you’re in a car accident, but it’s important to stay calm. Panicking and losing your cool can lead to poor decision-making and make the situation more dangerous.
In the event of a serious accident where someone is injured, people are more likely to have panic attacks or be overwhelmed by the situation and freeze up. Keeping calm will help you stay alert, think clearly, and help you and others involved in the accident get the assistance they need.
Deep breaths are a great way to stay calm during a stressful situation, and they can be done anywhere. If you feel your emotions getting the best of you, take a moment to breathe and focus on your breath to bring your mind back to the present and help you stay calm and focused.
Check for injuries
It’s possible that everyone involved in the car accident might walk away without so much as a scratch, but it’s also possible that there are injuries that aren’t immediately visible. It’s important to be aware of any injuries that anyone in your party might have sustained.
If there are injuries, get medical attention as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to take photos of any visible injuries, whether they are significant or not. If you feel that you may have sustained an injury, it’s important to get checked out by a medical professional.
Even if your injuries seem minor, they may be more serious than they appear, and you don’t want to risk having them cause you long-term problems later on down the road. Again, take photos of any injuries, regardless of their severity.
Contact the police and document the incident
As soon as possible after the accident, you should call the police and request that they come to the scene of the accident.
Before they arrive, you should take notes about the accident, including the date, time, location and address, vehicle’s make and model, license plate number, the names and contact information of any other drivers, passengers, or witnesses, and any other information that could be important.
You should also try to take pictures of the accident scene and any visible injuries, damage to the cars, or damage to the road.
Notify your insurance company
Accidents happen, and in most cases, your insurance company will be there to assist you. You must notify your insurance company of the incident as soon as possible.
In many cases, your policy requires that you report the accident within a specific time frame. Follow the instructions and report the incident as soon as possible.
The insurance company will send an investigator to the scene on rare occasions when the accident is severe. While the representative will ask you questions, they will likely ask questions of the other driver. Be sure to provide honest answers and avoid unnecessarily arguing or blaming another party.
Understand your rights
According to Aaron M. Black, one of the best Phoenix DUI attorneys, every state has different laws regarding responsibility in a car accident, and you should make sure you know your rights. For example, while almost every state in the U.S. has a “fault” system with which to assign responsibility, not all states have a “no-fault” system in place.
As such, you may want to seek legal counsel in order to fully understand your rights, particularly if the accident was serious enough to prompt an insurance claim. In some cases, the accident was serious enough that you should consider hiring an attorney. There are a few telltale signs that suggest this may be necessary.
First, if there are serious injuries involved, both parties may be unable to work due to their medical treatment. In addition, if the accident caused significant property damage (i.e., totaled one or more vehicles), you may want to consider contacting an attorney.
Refrain from apologizing or admitting fault
When you’re involved in a car accident, both parties may be eager to apologize or admit fault. While it’s a nice sentiment, you shouldn’t feel obligated to apologize, particularly if you weren’t at fault for the accident.
Similarly, you don’t want to be quick to admit fault if you aren’t actually responsible for the accident. Doing so could jeopardize your ability to collect on the claim you file. In many cases, the other parties involved in the accident will ask you if you’re insured, if you have insurance, etc.
This is most likely an attempt to determine if they have an opportunity to seek compensation. While you don’t want to lie, you also don’t want to give false information. If you aren’t sure what to say, play it safe and stay silent.
Consider legal assistance
As mentioned, it’s important to know when to call in a lawyer for assistance. In general, you should consider hiring a lawyer in the following situations:
- You’re not sure how to proceed after a car accident
- You’re unsure whether you have a valid claim
- You’re dealing with a serious injury or accident
- You’re dealing with significant or complicated damages
- You’re dealing with special circumstances (such as a child’s car accident)
- You’re unsure how to protect your rights and interests in the aftermath of a serious accident
It’s important to note that seeking legal counsel doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll win your case. However, it does mean that you have someone with experience working on your side who can help you navigate the system and make sure you get the best possible outcome given the situation.
There are many things to consider when you’re involved in a car accident, and you can use this article as a guide to help you navigate the immediate aftermath of such an event.
Remember to stay calm, check for injuries, document the accident, contact your insurance company, understand your rights, and refrain from apologizing or admitting fault. Lastly, if you have questions about what to do after a car accident, consider consulting with a lawyer.