What to do if You are in a Car Accident.

This post will help you if you are being proactive and want to learn how to protect yourself in the event of a crash, or what to do if you have already been in a crash.  Hopefully, this will make the whole ordeal easier for you.      

Quickly Check Your Surroundings to Make Sure You are Safe

Many times car accidents trigger additional car accidents.  You will want to remain in place, with your seatbelt fastened, in case there is another crash.  Make sure your passengers remain where they are.

Once it is clear you are not going to be hit again, check your surroundings.  Do you see smoke or fire?  If so, you probably need to evacuate you and your passengers, regardless of injuries.  They key is to keep everyone safe.

Check on Everyone in Your Car

Once you are sure it is safe, thoroughly check yourself and your passengers for injuries.  If anyone is in pain and something doesn’t feel right, especially in the head, neck, or back, do not risk it. Call an ambulance and seek immediate medical attention. Remain in place and wait for police or paramedics to arrive.  They are trained how to move injured people without causing additional injury.

Check on Pedestrians and Other Car Occupants

After checking on traffic and confirming it is safe to exit your car, you should check on pedestrians who were involved in the crash as well as occupants of the other vehicles.

Move Your Car to a Safe Place

If you are involved in a minor crash on the highway, without severe injuries, you should probably move your car to the right-sided shoulder out of the flow of traffic.  If there are severe injuries, leave your car where it is for the accident investigation.

If you are involved in a minor crash on residential or city streets, you may want to move your car if it is blocking traffic.  Otherwise, again, you might want to leave the car where it is for the accident investigation.

No matter what, never leave the scene of the accident without exchanging insurance information with the other drivers.  However, if you feel threatened or unsafe, call 911 immediately and get yourself to a safe location.  Explain to the 911 operator why your safety was at risk, forcing you to leave.

Call 911

To avoid questions about who was at fault, even if it seems obvious, call 911 and ask them to send a police officer.  Police officers typically file a crash report, or accident report, that documents what happened.  Police can also issue a citation the driver who is at fault.  The crash report goes a long way to proving to the insurance companies and courts what happened.

Do not rely on the other driver saying it was their fault and telling you the police are not necessary.  They are not your friend.  They are not going to look out for your interests, especially if they are looking at a huge rate increase in their insurance premium or personal liability for your damages.

Take Photos of Everything

Take several pictures of every car involved in the crash, showing all the damage.  Photos of vehicle damage visualize the extent of the collision and your injuries. They can also refute allegations by the other driver that the accident was your fault or that this was a minor crash.

If the other drivers provide you with documents, proof of insurance, or other information, take photographs of those as well.  You do not want to lose this information.

You should also photograph your injuries.

Exchange Insurance Information

The law requires drivers to have auto insurance and share this information with others involved in a crash.  You will want to obtain the other drivers’ car insurance providers and policy numbers, and the make, model, color, and license plate of the other cars.  If possible, get a copy of the other drivers’ license information.  Most of this will be in the officer’s crash report or covered by the photographs you take.

Go To The Doctor

Even if you do not think you are injured, you should visit an urgent care, hospital emergency room, or your doctor.  If you require additional care, follow your doctor’s advice and do not delay treatment.

For reasons that your lawyer can explain later, it is preferable that you see in-network providers through your health insurance.  If you do not have health insurance or are limited by the potential providers in your area, there are doctors who specialize in injury care and do not require up front payment.  Again, you should speak with your lawyer about this.

Contact your Insurance Carrier

Promptly notify your automobile insurance company of the crash.  Failing to do so could potentially leave you personally responsible for injuries and damages caused by the crash.  Also, depending on the type of coverage you have, you might want your insurance company to handle the repair of your vehicle.  Getting your car repaired is important to your future safety when using the car.

Also, talk to your automobile insurance provider about coverage that protects you when the other driver does not have enough insurance or any insurance.  There is coverage that will pay your medical bills regardless of who is at fault for the crash.  You should also look into GAP coverage in case your car is totaled because you will only be paid the fair market value of the car and not the amount left on your loan.

Make sure you have uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage.  Getting hit by someone who has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your damages can be catastrophic.  We frequently see problems like this, often leaving those with injuries without any compensation.  You should protect yourself by having this coverage.

Call Gage Mathers

Being involved in a car accident is stressful, complicated, and time intensive.  Hiring an attorney to assist with your injury claim saves you the hassle and makes everything easier. Gage Mathers works on a contingency fee basis.  This means that you owe no attorney’s fees and will not be required to pay any costs until a recovery is obtained for you.