Car accidents are a public health emergency. Almost 3,700 people die every day in an accident on a roadway. Crashes are the leading cause of death for children and young adults.
You may not know what to do after an accident, even a minor one. Before you get into your car, you need to have a checklist for car accidents.
What should be the very first thing that you do? How can you keep yourself safe after totaling your vehicle? How can you get documentation for a car insurance claim?
Answer these questions and you can stay safe and calm after any kind of traffic accident. Here is your quick guide.
Inspect Your Body for Injuries
Your first priority after a car accident must be your health. You should prepare well in advance for injuries you might sustain.
Put a first aid kit in your glove box or underneath your seat. It should contain bandages, disinfectants, and splints. If a kit would be too cumbersome, put some supplies in your bag.
Always wear a seatbelt, even for a short drive. It should fit over your shoulders and around your waist.
Do not drive intoxicated, distracted, or drowsy. If you take medication that makes you sleepy, you should not go driving.
After the collision has occurred, take a deep breath. Pull out a mirror and look at your face. Take a look at your hands, torso, and legs.
You may have an injury that you do not notice because of the adrenaline flowing through you. After any accident, you should get help from a doctor so they can check for these wounds.
If you have a serious injury, remain where you are and wait for someone to come to you. Under no circumstances should you move your head or neck. You will make a concussion or spinal cord injury worse.
Get Out of the Way
Once you have checked yourself, you can check other people. Make sure the passengers and animals in your car are fine. Take a look through your windows to see if drivers and pedestrians are okay.
If your car is working, you should turn on the hazard lights. Pull it over to the side of the road close to the accident. Turn off your car and get out.
If you have a totaled car, you should get out once it is safe. Sit down on the road and wait for first responders to arrive.
You should call 911 once you are in a safe location. Some states require a call after any accident, no matter how serious. It is an act of courtesy to do so even if it is not required.
Once everyone is safe, exchange information with them. You should get the full name, contact information, and insurance policy of the other driver. You should also get their driver’s license and license plate details.
You can write them down on a sheet of paper, or you can take photographs of them. Photographs are more authentic than written notes.
You don’t need to have a lengthy conversation as you’re getting details. You should not talk about who was at fault. You are already in a stressful situation, and you risk escalating matters by getting into an argument.
You should also get the details of anyone who witnessed the accident. This includes businesses with security cameras that may have captured the collision.
Do not run after someone who has fled the scene. Try to write down anything you know about them, especially the license plate and vehicle details.
Document the Scene
You should take photographs or videos of the vehicles involved and the surrounding area. Document the road and environmental conditions, including lighting and weather.
If you have a moment, record what you think happened. Having a testimony from moments after the collision can go a long way toward proving your case.
When officers arrive, get their information. Ask for their names and badge numbers. Try to cooperate with them, giving them your own witness account.
Get Broken Car Removal
Do not try to remove your broken car yourself. Even if someone with a tow truck stops by, your car may be leaking oil. Broken glass and metal can cause large cuts.
You should call a service who can take your car and clean the scene. If you don’t have one in mind, Google “removal your old car.”
Stay at the scene until they retrieve your car. They may let you obtain the personal belongings you left inside. They will give you information on where your vehicle is going so you can decide what to do with it.
Talk to Your Insurer
If you need medical attention, go to your doctor’s office or the emergency room. It is very important that you get help if you have severe pain or debilitating symptoms. You may not notice a concussion until you have extensive bleeding in your brain.
You can call your insurer from the crash scene or hospital. When you are feeling ready, you can start the car insurance claim process.
Each state permits a different amount of compensation. You may live in a non-fault state, in which your insurance will pay for yourself and your passengers. Other states limit coverage depending on your degree of responsibility for the crash.
You can file a lawsuit if you sustained significant injuries or damages to your property. At that point, you should call a lawyer for guidance.
Your Checklist for Car Accidents
Every driver must have a checklist for car accidents. Making sure you are okay goes at the very top. Have first aid supplies with you and do a quick inspection after a crash.
Find a safe spot where you can exchange information with the other driver and witnesses. Do not pursue someone fleeing the crash.
Take photographs of the damaged vehicles and road conditions. Call someone to take your broken car away. Talk to your insurer as soon as you are ready to do so.
Don’t be careless about your car. Follow our coverage for more safety guides.