An auto accident can cause major disruptions in your life. You could find yourself grappling with serious injuries, medical bills, and the loss of your motor vehicle. Although you may be startled when an accident happens, it’s important to stay focused on protecting yourself and your financial interests. These nine steps help you know what to do after car accident situations.
What to Do After a Car Accident
- Call for Help
- Seek Medical Attention
- Take Photographs for Evidence
- Write Down What Happened
- Exchange Contact Information with Other Parties Involved in the Accident
- Contact Your Insurance Company
- Never Admit Fault
- Hire an Attorney
- Document All Medical Bills
You can drive for years with no incidents only to have an accident happen unexpectedly. Knowing what to do after car accident scenarios is key to achieving the best outcome after an auto accident. It may help to keep a list of these steps in your vehicle or documented in your mobile phone so that you have them on hand if the need arises.
Even a seemingly minor car accident can cause life-altering injuries, lost wages, and significant medical expenses. No one likes to think about situations having a motor vehicle accident disrupt their lives, but you should know they happen every day. Even if you’re a safe driver, you can’t control others or the road or weather conditions that could cause a car accident. Knowing what to do after car accident situations happen can help you navigate any hardships you may face.
1. Call for Help
Immediately after an accident, call for help. You should call 911 and talk to a dispatcher about the crash. Remember to convey the seriousness of the situation, but don’t admit fault. Explain any potential injuries or risks at the accident scene. In most cases, a dispatcher will send police, fire trucks, and emergency medical professionals to the scene.
Also, you may need to call a friend or family member for assistance or support. If your vehicle is not operational, you could need transportation for yourself or others in your vehicle. You may also need support to make necessary contacts or facilitate medical care. It’s a good idea to have a trusted individual in your corner after a car accident.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t feel hurt or injured, seeking medical attention after a motor vehicle accident is always a smart idea. Some injuries are not apparent right away, but they can cause you pain and impairment over time. Also, mild injuries can worsen without appropriate medical treatment. If you don’t receive care, an insurance company may deny claims for your accident-related injuries. This situation can result in a heavy financial burden for you.
If an accident arrives on the scene, you can take it to the emergency room for evaluation. However, if immediate care isn’t possible, go to see a doctor right away. Make a prompt appointment or head to an urgent care facility immediately after leaving the scene.
At your initial appointment, a physician will recommend a treatment plan, involving therapies, specialist visits, or medication. Follow this plan precisely to promote healing and help your insurance claim.
3. Take Photographs for Evidence
If possible, take photographs of the scene of the car accident right away. You can use the phone on your mobile device to capture pictures. Walk around the scene to take images from different angles to create a clear picture of what happened in the accident.
Taking photos will clarify the road, weather, and traffic conditions of the accident. Also, photographs can help a police officer, judge, or insurance adjuster determine who is at fault for the crash. Pictures can be excellent evidence for insurance assessment or court cases and can be key to you getting the financial benefits you deserve.
4. Write Down What Happened
After a motor vehicle accident, take some time to note what happened. You can use a mobile device to type notes or write them down on paper. Do this promptly so that you have a clear understanding of the details of the car crash.
Because car accidents are distressing, it’s easy for people to forget important information in the hours and days after the crash. However, good notes can be valuable for insurance adjusters, police officers, or attorneys who need solid evidence about what transpired.
What should you write down? Describe the situation before the accident happened. Did you see other parties before the crash? How were they behaving and driving? Were there any unexpected happenings that led to the accident?
Also, describe the aftermath of the accident. Be sure to note if the other parties involved admitted fault. Write about the scene, the damage to your vehicle, the injuries to you and others, and how you feel emotionally. All of these details will be valuable as your car insurance claim or case proceeds. This approach will also help you provide accurate information for a police report.
5. Exchange Contact Information with Other Parties Involved in the Accident
Before you leave the scene, you need to gather information from other people involved in the accident. You will also need to share information about yourself with other parties. What do you need to exchange? The basic details to cover include full name, phone number, vehicle license plate number, name of insurance company, and insurance policy number. It’s always wise to keep your insurance information with you at all times—with a copy in your glove compartment and wallet.
Get the names and phone numbers of anyone who witnessed the accidents. These people can provide valuable insight into what happened and make a big difference in any insurance claim or court case you pursue.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
After an auto accident, call your insurance provider right away. Most insurers have hotlines available 24/7 for you to report accidents and file an insurance claim. Although this process is stressful, remember that the professionals at insurance companies handle these situations every day. They can help guide you through the process and offer you valuable advice about your policy and how to protect your financial interests.
In most cases, you’ll find a number to report accidents or claims on your insurance card or policy documentation. Some insurers also offer a website or an app to streamline the reporting process. Report your auto accident promptly to launch the claims process and secure any benefits from your policy that may be helpful, such as car rental reimbursement or towing coverage.
7. Never Admit Fault
When an accident occurs, you should never admit fault. This is one of the most important things to remember about what to do after car accident situations. It’s best to say as little as possible at the accident scene and let legal and insurance professionals represent your side of the story.
Even if you did cause or contribute to the car crash, you’ll need to work through insurance and legal processes. An investigation by these third parties could find evidence that shows other parties are at fault. When this happens, you may not be charged with an accident, which means less impact on your insurance rates and less risk of points on your driver’s license. However, if you state that you are at fault—even if you’re just feeling strong emotions in the heat of the moment—these words can be used as evidence against you.
8. Hire an Attorney
An expert car accident lawyer is an important professional to have in your corner after an accident. Typically, these lawyers have experience navigating the insurance claims and payout processes and can represent your case in court if needed. They will know how to help you secure compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and any other losses.
If you are found at fault for an accident, a skilled attorney can minimize the consequences you have to face. Being charged with a car accident can result in a host of unwanted consequences—from fines and lawsuits to loss of driving privileges and jail time. A strong attorney can advocate on your behalf and protect you from the worst-case scenarios.
9. Document All Medical Bills
After a car crash, you need to keep detailed records of all medical bills. Start with your first emergency room or doctor’s visit and track every subsequent appointment. You may need X-Rays, medical imaging, physical therapy, medications, pain management, or other treatments for car or truck accident injuries.
Unfortunately, some accidents result in life-long medical outcomes and ongoing care. A thorough record of all your expenses is critical to gain insurance and other benefits to protect your financial position.
Disability Benefits After a Car Accident
A car accident can alter your life and jeopardize your security. In certain cases, you can pursue Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits for an injury caused by a motor vehicle accident.
How do you apply for SSDI after an accident? First, the accident must result in a serious mental or physical impairment that has lasted or can last for more than 12 months. Next, you cannot be involved in activities that pay more than a specified annual limit. You also must not be able to perform work functions that you did in the past and cannot receive training to perform less demanding work.
Securing disability benefits is a complicated endeavor. A personal injury lawyer will have the expertise needed to guide you step-by-step through the process. These professionals advise car accident victims regularly and will have up-to-date knowledge that can make your path to gaining benefits easier.
It’s Smart to Know What to Do After Car Accident Situations Happen
Car accidents happen every day. They can change a person’s life dramatically. You don’t want to wait until the unthinkable happens. Instead, equip yourself with knowledge on what to do after car accident situations arise so that you can make smart decisions.
Even if you’ve had a minor accident or fender better, you should take the right steps. Calling 911 and getting in touch with family or friends promptly is essential. Seek medical attention, even if you don’t feel any pain or injury, to ensure you receive appropriate care. Some injuries aren’t apparent right away and can get worse without treatment.
You should also take photographs and write down what happened while you are at the scene. This documentation can provide vital evidence to your insurance company, the police, or any court cases. It can help you file a detailed, accurate accident report with your insurance company.
One thing to remember about what to do after car accident situations happen: Never admit fault. Let professional investigators and insurance adjusters assess the situation to determine who is at fault for the accident.
Your best bet is to say very little at the scene and hire a car accident attorney to represent you and speak on your behalf. These experts know how to communicate in your best interests and ask smart questions to secure the evidence you need for claims or a legal case. A skilled Social Security disability attorney can help you understand if you qualify for disability benefits and assist you with pursuing SSD after an auto accident.
Most people don’t think about what to do after car accident scenarios and find themselves unprepared for the many complications a car crash can bring. An accident victim may need to deal with law enforcement, their insurance company, and multiple doctors—all while coping with the loss of a vehicle and income. Educating yourself on how to navigate after an accident and taking smart steps can protect your health, wellbeing, and finances.