Being in a car accident is not something that is pleasant to think about, but it can happen, whether it was your fault or the fault of someone else. You should know what to do after an accident ahead of time, because when you are in the moment there will be a lot of things racing through your mind, especially if you have passengers in the car and want to ensure that they are kept safe. By taking the right steps straight away, it can help to avoid any bad situations from escalating or getting worse, and can make sure that you are able to sort out any auto insurance claim quickly and efficiently.
If you want to know what you need to do to be prepared, then there are some things that you should think about.
Stop after a car accident
The first thing that you need to do is to stop the car and not drive away. If you do so, then it is an offence and could lead you to greater trouble. Even if it feels like it was a pretty minor incident, you still need to stop the car, get out, and check. In order to help other users of the road when you have switched off your engine, you should put on your hazard lights so that you can let other road users know that you will be there for a while and that they should avoid you. As inconvenient as it may feel, don’t drive elsewhere to talk things through with the other party; deal with the incident right where it happened, even if it means that some traffic is blocked temporarily.
Call the right people
It is important to know who to call after a traffic accident. They can all be different and you’re likely to call fewer people for something like a fender bender compared to an accident that has left passengers injured. If there have been any injuries, then you need to call 911 right away. This is both for an ambulance as well as getting police to the scene too. When there has been a big crash, police will need to be informed and they can come to help navigate traffic and oversee things, as required. If you think that there has been some foul play with the incident, such as people that purposefully cause crashes in order for them to try to claim money from you, then calling the police is wise too.
One of the next people to call is family and friends if you need their help and advice. For example, you might be driving your dad’s car, which you are insured for, but you just don’t know the insurance details. If there have been injuries then calling to inform people is good to do too. If you are in the wrong or if the accident was caused because of your negligence, then not necessarily right away, but at some point, calling a criminal defense attorney could be a good idea. Make sure that you have things like a police report and photos of what happened at the scene too.
Giving and collecting contact information and insurance details
If you are involved in a car accident then you have to give your contact information to the other party that is involved. Showing them your license is a good idea, as it proves who you are and shows all of that information there. If you crash into something like a parked car, then it is important to leave information for them on the windscreen, rather than not leaving anything as that is an offence. When exchanging information, it is important to not say sorry or apologize, as it could count against you in court, and you might not even be the one that is at fault. If you haven’t called the police as there wasn’t necessarily a need, then it is still a good idea to report it to the local police (on a non-emergency number) within twenty-four hours. If you don’t, it could lead to a penalty fine.
Make sure that as well as giving your details, you get the names and contact details of the other drivers that are involved, as well as passengers. Something that people can forget to do is to get the contact information of any witnesses; this can be crucial, especially when the accident wasn’t your fault. You should also get the details of their auto insurance. If someone drives off, try to get the license plate details and then call the police as they shouldn’t be doing that.
Other information to gather after a car accident
Your mind can be thinking of a million things at once when you’ve had an accident, especially if you are feeling anxious or adrenaline has kicked in. So here are some other things that you need to think about and other information to gather:
The car registration – even with the driver’s contact details, you need to make a note of the vehicle details such as the license, make, model, and color of the vehicle.
The time and date of the crash – this is important for insurance purposes, as well as for checking things like traffic light cameras.
Photos if possible, of the vehicles that were involved, left as the crash happened – this is vital for insurance purposes as it can be used as evidence. Just using your smartphone camera will be suitable enough for this.
Make a note of weather conditions – was it particularly icy at the time, for example?
Anything else unusual about the road – are there large potholes that could have led to the crash?
By being prepared and knowing what to do in the case of a car accident can make such a big difference to how smoothly it all runs afterwards. It can also help you to be more calm and collected at the time, should you need to. If you think that you need to get more information, then ask and make sure that you get it.