10 steps to take if you’re in an auto accident
Emily Sperry January 03, 2020
When you are in an auto accident, your adrenaline is in charge. If you are conscious and mobile, you’ll likely have shakiness and an unclear thought pattern that can disrupt the decision-making process. This is the body’s fight-or-flight response, and it is our instinctual survival mode. However, this mental state can also make us forget crucial steps to take if you are in an auto accident. If you are able, these steps can ease the process of mitigating any damages and preventing further damages.
1. Get out of traffic.
The first step should be safety, and that means getting out of traffic. If your vehicle is on the road, get out of it. If you have flares, put them out to warn others of the hazard. Your first step is to make sure you aren’t going to cause an additional accident.
2. Check on other drivers/passengers.
When you are making sure you are safe, you should also check on your passengers. When everyone in your vehicle is accounted for and safe, it is time to check on those in other vehicles. Do not attempt to move any passengers who are trapped in their vehicles, as you could exacerbate any injuries. Instead, try to help make them comfortable and place flares on the road if necessary to avoid another collision.
3. Call police.
You always want to call the police when you are in an accident. This reduces the possibility that the other party can falsely claim injury or claim worse damages. This also ensures that proper insurance information is received, so you don’t have to bother with an information exchange.
4. Do not admit fault.
Tell the police what happened, but you don’t have to tell them if you believe it was your fault. They will figure that out based on both sides of the story, witnesses, and any physical evidence. They will also issue tickets for traffic violations. Admitting fault complicates the situation, and you can protect yourself and your insurance company by telling the truth without the presumption of fault.
5. Check for witnesses.
Especially if you think the other party was at-fault, look to see if there are any witnesses. Get their contact information if possible. The police may be able to do this to, but any work you can do on your own to secure evidence may be very helpful later.
6. File a claim with insurance.
After the dust has settled and you know you have your basic information about all parties involved in the accident, it’s time to call your insurance company and file a claim. Your claim will be sent to an adjuster who will review the details of the insurance claim and determine fault.
7. Take pictures.
Nearly everyone has a smartphone with them, so they are equipped with cameras to take evidence at the scene. These photos can be some of the best evidence to prove exactly where your vehicle and the other party’s vehicle was along with corresponding damage.
8. See a doctor.
If there is any question about whether or not you are injured, go see a doctor right away. In severe cases, you’ll be transported by ambulance. However, if you aren’t transported, you should still go to make sure you don’t have any head or neck injuries. Adrenaline takes away the pain at the scene of the accident, but you’ll likely have some pain after an accident even in a low-speed crash.
9. Get an estimate.
Your insurance company will likely want an estimate for repair work, and you generally have the right to have the work done at the body shop of your choice. Depending on your insurance company, they will either pay you the amount of the estimate or pay the body shop. Either way, getting an estimate right away means your automobile will be repaired quickly.
10. Consider an attorney.
If things aren’t progressing as they should, and you don’t feel your insurance company is paying you the proper amounts or the other party is not being held accountable, it might be time to hire an attorney. Especially when there are extensive medical bills, a lawyer may be necessary to reach the limits of your policy.
Accidents are regrettable, but you can maximize your results.
Every accident is different, and you may only need to perform some of these steps in order to get a fair result from your accident. However, following these steps when able will help to ensure that you get what you deserve after an auto accident.