The aftermath of a car accident ranges from emotional to outright traumatic. There’s a lot of adrenaline flowing, and that’s true even if no one is seriously hurt. That’s why you need to know now what to do if you’re in a car wreck. Here are the top 5 things to do after an auto accident. We’ll also explain why these actions matter so much.
Check for Injuries
Once you’ve stopped, start checking yourself and others for injuries. If it is safe to do so, check those in the other car for injuries. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911 and request an ambulance. If it is necessary, you may need to get to safety. For example, a car that’s been thrown into ongoing traffic may get hit again. If you can, move the car out of the way of oncoming vehicles. However, that’s a lower priority than taking care of anyone who is hurt.
Document As Much As Possible Yourself
Don’t leave everything in the hands of the police. Take pictures of your car from all sides. Take pictures of their car, as well. Don’t forget to get a picture of their license plate in case they give you false information or are driving someone else’s car. Take a picture of their driver’s license and insurance card, because this is probably more accurate than hand-written notes. Capture the current road conditions, in case this is relevant to determining fault later. Take pictures of cross-streets to prove where you were. Ask everyone involved for their contact information, in case you need them to make witness statements later.
A side benefit of documenting all of this yourself is that it ensures you have this information in case the other person leaves before a police report can be made.
Call the Police
In some states, you’re required to report any accident, including fender benders, to the police. This allows them to fill out an accident report and document the scene. In the rest of the country, you want the police report so that you have a neutral third party account of the accident. Furthermore, only a police officer can prove one of the parties is drunk or otherwise in violation of the law. If the police decide not to come out, you’ve already documented as much as possible.
Wait for Help
Always wait until everyone’s needs have been tended to. Do not leave after calling for an ambulance. You’re legally required to stay until first responders have arrived take care of the injured. If you have asked police to come out, you can’t leave even if you think you’re not at fault.
When the police arrive, get their names and badge numbers. Try to get a copy of the police report. If that’s not possible, find out the police report number. Your insurance company may ask for that information when you file the claim.
Notify Your Insurer
Notifying your insurer is among the last things to do after an accident. You could call them while you’re at the accident scene. They may be able to tell you what information they need to speed up the claims process. Or they could explain the claims process to you. This could help you pass the time while waiting for help to arrive.