If You’re Involved In An Accident
Some accidents you can anticipate — like a child running too
close to the sharp edge of a table. It’s only a matter of time before he cuts
the corner too close and suffers a bump or two.
Other accidents, however, come without warning. Whether it’s
a slip at work that causes you to tumble down a flight of stairs or a vehicle
collision in rush hour traffic — some accidents are just unexpected.
This is especially true for auto accidents. The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that six million U.S. drivers
are in a car accident each year. You could be one of those six million, and as
the age-old adage goes, “you should plan for the best, but prepare for the
Below are four things you should know if you’ve been involved
in an automobile accident:
1. Pull over to a safe location & assess the situation
If your collision is minor, and you are physically and safely
able to do so, pull over to a safe place.
First check everyone involved, including yourself, for
injuries. Once it’s been determined that everyone involved is okay, call 911,
and then exchange information with the other driver. This is the most optimal
However, some accidents are more serious — especially when a
substantial injury is involved.
2. If seriously injured, seek medical help immediately
If you feel you or anybody else involved in the accident has
been seriously injured, immediately call 911 if you are able. EMTs and first
responders on the scene will medically assess any injuries and treat you on the
If you have serious visible injuries and you cannot get out
of your vehicle, an ambulance will be called, and your next destination will be
an emergency room.
Be mindful of how you feel a few hours and even a few days
after your accident too, as some injuries are not immediately apparent.
Sometimes injuries don’t manifest themselves at the accident
scene — maybe due to the rush of adrenaline from the shock of [a] collision.
Sometimes symptoms don’t become apparent until a little later after the wreck,
people may not appear to be seriously injured at the scene, but sometimes you
can have a soft tissue injury, like a cervical strain or sprain — whiplash is a
common one — that shows up in the next day or so.
3. Document your case & collect as much information as
If you are so seriously injured that you are rushed off in an
ambulance, it’s obvious that you will not be able to talk to witnesses or take
pictures of the crash with your phone.
However, if you’re well enough to talk with people who may
have seen the wreck happen, you should do so. Witnesses are key when hashing
out the details of the crash with insurers and the police.
Taking pictures of the crash can also help document what
happened at the scene, including photos of:
Damage to your car The location of the vehicles after the
wreck The other driver’s information Visible injuries, if any
Make sure that you do not admit fault for the accident or
give out more personal information than is necessary when talking with police
officers or insurance adjusters. The legalities of a car crash can be
complicated, and while you should be honest, you should give only the bare
facts as to not potentially incriminate yourself or hurt your case down the
4. Choose a course of action
This brings us to the “what do I do if…?” phase.
You may be wondering what you should do if your car has been
damaged, how to talk with your insurer or what legal action you should take if
you have been seriously injured. All of this can be overwhelming, but here are
a few tips:
Contact your insurance company and read your policy as soon
as you can.
Figure out what your insurance covers and how much your
premium may go up. To help you understand the ins and outs, seek the advisement
of a legal advocate if you need to.
Keep tabs on your communication exchanges with the insurer,
as you’ll want records of when you discussed your policy. As aforementioned,
collect as much information on the accident as possible.
If you’ve been injured, maintain copies of your medical
records to establish the extent of your injuries. Also, keep all receipts and
billing statements for every cost that is included in your potential claim.
If you’ve been seriously injured or your car has been
severely damaged, you’ll want to decide whether or not to file an injury claim
or a property damage claim.