A member of my staff was telling me a story the other day about his friend getting into an auto accident, and some of the mistakes he made at that moment. You know, a lot of people don’t really know how to handle this situation until it’s too late, and they learn from their mistakes.
So you don’t have to do that, here’s 8 important things to do immediately after an accident.
- Make sure both you and your car get to a safe place as quickly as possible.
- Call 911 for emergency medical and police assistance. Are you OK? Are your passengers OK? Assist the injured. Consider learning CPR. It’s a life-changing course. Do not attempt CPR if you are untrained. Remember the ABCs – Airway, Breathing and Chest Compressions. Often there can be broken bones, spinal cord injury and trauma – so be careful and do not move the injured unless it’s emergent to do so.
- Safely exit the vehicle and talk to the other driver. Get all of their contact information. Take a picture of the driver’s license and insurance card. Look at the other driver’s license and insurance card to write the information down yourself. Don’t trust what they say. Talk to the other driver about their conduct prior to the accident. Be nice, but ask what they did wrong. If it is the other driver’s fault, get them to say it’s their fault for causing the accident and notice if they apologize to you. Inquire with them a little: “Didn’t you see that light?” “Why were you going too fast?” “Why did you pull out in front of me?” “How come you didn’t stop before you rear-ended me?” They may say things to you like, “I was on my phone,” “I wasn’t paying attention,” “I’m sorry” or a variety of other things.
- Call the police and get a police report for almost every auto accident. A police report ensures that an independent person is taking down all the information, identifying any witnesses, and evaluating the crash. Policemen are trained to investigate auto accidents. Give the police officer a short, clear statement of how the accident happened. Ask the police officer for his/her full name, badge number, organization (e.g. highway patrol or local town or municipality) and police report number.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, property damage to both vehicles, skid marks, etc.
- Get witness names and phone numbers and write them down yourself. They may not be included in the police report. I have had many instances where the great witness is not in the police report and their information is lost.
- Get any medical attention you need promptly, whether it’s on the scene, an hour later, that night or the next day. Be sure to get medical attention – ER, urgent care, primary care doctor or chiropractor.
- Document everything and all the matters relating to your claim.
Car accidents are awful, but it’s important to be prepared with knowledge. Fortunately, we’ve literally written the book on how to handle a car crash! Tell ya what, let me give you a copy.
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