Over 17,000 car accidents are reported daily; this means, in actuality, many more happen. If you’re a driver, there’s a good chance you’ll join the statistics at some point, even if you practice defensive driving.
When the inevitable happens, you want to be prepared. At the time of the crash, you may be disoriented and have adrenaline coursing through your body; you may not be in the best of physical condition to handle the affairs. But if you at least know the general idea of what to do after an accident, you’ll fare better than not knowing what to do at all.
Here’s what to do when you’re involved in a collision so you not only stay safe, but you also follow the right procedures for getting the accident documented for insurance.
If it’s only a minor fender bender, it’s best for everyone on the road if you pull over to the shoulder and put on your hazard lights. That way, you’re not blocking traffic, and you won’t risk being hit by a driver who’s unaware that you’ve stopped your car.
However, if it’s a severe car accident, or your car can’t be moved for whatever reason (it won’t start, or it has significant damage), put on your hazard lights, and get yourself and your passengers out of the car. Move over to the side, away from oncoming traffic.
You may feel like a fender bender doesn’t warrant a call to the emergency line, but that’s where you’d be wrong. It’s highly beneficial and even required by the law in some states for you to report every car accident, no matter how small it is. In Georgia, you’re only required to report the car accident if there are personal injuries, death, or damages that exceed $500.
When you call 911, you’ll have records of your car accident; these can be useful for your car accident attorney should you need to file a lawsuit. It’s also good to have when you’re filing an insurance claim, especially if you develop whiplash in the following days.
If you somehow manage to forget to call 911, don’t stress out. In many cases, you have up to 72 hours to file a car accident after the fact.
However, the longer you wait, the more likely your police report will have incorrect or missing details. This is why it’s ideal that you call 911 right when the accident happens.
Check That You and Your Passengers Are OK
Once you’ve safely pulled over or had walked out to a safe place, check yourself and your passengers thoroughly for any injuries. If you can, take pictures to document your injuries.
Of course, if any of you have severe injuries and can’t move, stay put in the car, so you don’t worsen them. Wait for the ambulance to arrive so they can assess the situation and give proper treatment.
Exchange Information with the Other Party
If you have minor injuries or haven’t suffered any at all, then it’s fine to get out of the car to exchange information with the other driver.
Information/documents you’ll want to get from each other include:
- Your driver’s licenses
- Insurance cards (get their policy number)
- Makes and models of the cars involved (don’t forget about the license plate numbers)
- The location of the accident (e.g., a particular highway marker)
You might also want to get their phone number just in case you need to get in touch with them about insurance issues. It may be a good idea to take pictures of these things you lose the paper or file you’ve written this information down on.
Since a car accident can happen at any time, it’s a good idea to keep a pen and paper in your glove compartment as well as a disposable camera. That way, you won’t have to scramble for alternatives, especially if your phone died.
Don’t Admit Fault
You may be tempted to start apologizing, whether or not the accident was your fault. Resist this temptation since it can be used against you.
Instead, choose your words very carefully and keep conversation to a minimum. This will decrease your chances of saying something that can be taken as you admitting fault for the crash.
Take Pictures of Both Vehicles
There’s bound to be damage on both cars after the crash, so make sure you document these straight away. These pictures are crucial in making insurance claims because if you don’t have them to back up your claim, the other party can refute it, saying those scratches or dents weren’t there at the time of the accident.
Get as many pictures of the scene as you can. This can help professionals get a more accurate idea of what happened. For instance, if there are skid marks on the ground, they can maybe determine which car was at fault just from that.
Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer
Since you may be unfamiliar with the law, you may not be pursuing and getting the most compensation you can get. When you have an attorney on your side, not only will you get fair compensation, but you’ll also get peace of mind that your rights are protected.
Often, the other party involved will try to get you to perform actions that’d hurt your case. A car accident lawyer will be able to spot these attempts and protect you from them.
Know What to Do After an Accident
The next time you get into a collision, you’ll know what to do after an accident. This can help you remain calm and collect all the necessary information. Without this knowledge, you may feel helpless and end up spending valuable time later chasing up the pieces of information you need.
So make sure you familiarize yourself with the appropriate steps to take after an auto accident, so you’ll feel confident handling the situation.
Get help filing a car accident lawsuit in Atlanta now.
Seth Bader is an Auto accident, Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Rome, Savannah, Norcross, Carrollton, Georgia. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years. Seth Bader believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.