Car accidents are scary and stressful no matter what. But preparing in advance for the actions you’d need to take can help you to stay calm if an accident does occur. So what should you do after a car accident? Here are the five most important steps:
- Assess Injuries
The first thing you should always do after a car accident is see if anyone is seriously hurt (either in your car or any others involved in the crash). If so, call an ambulance. Even if you don’t need immediate medical care, you should get yourself checked out by a doctor soon after the accident; injuries aren’t always evident right away, especially when you’re amped up on adrenaline.
- Call the Police
When you googled “what should you do after a car accident,” this is probably the answer you were hoping you wouldn’t get: It’s very important that you call the police after an accident so that there’s a record and official report. This report will be used by insurance companies to help in establishing fault. Most places, the law sets a certain threshold of property damage above which you are legally required to call the police. And if anyone is hurt, you also must call. Because it can be tough in the aftermath of an accident to remember exactly what the legal requirements are, it’s best to just default to alerting the police.
- Get Your Own Info
The police will document the scene, but it’s also wise to gather some information yourself. Get the name and insurance number of the other driver (or drivers), take photos of the cars and surrounding areas, and jot down some notes in case your memory isn’t at its best.
- Stay Consistent
As in all stressful or traumatic situations, memory is a tricky thing after a car accident. But it’s important that you do your best to stay calm and be guided by the facts. Make sure you’re completely honest with the police and other authorities, staying consistent and resisting the urge to exaggerate the other driver’s role in the crash.
- Explore Legal Options
In a best-case scenario, either your policy or the other driver’s liability insurance will cover all your expenses, and you’ll be back to normal as soon as possible. But if the insurance company of the responsible party is hedging, or if the other driver was uninsured or underinsured, then you may need to explore further legal options. You shouldn’t assume that a lawsuit is your only choice; often, working with auto accident injury attorneys can actually help you to get fair car accident settlements while avoiding a lawsuit or trial.
Do you agree with our answer to the question of what should you do after a car accident? If you have clarifications, additions or questions, join the discussion in the comments.