Car accidents happen regularly on roads all over the United States. According to the United States Department of Transportation, in 2019, over 36,000 people died in automobile accidents. According to the Center for Disease Control, over three million people are injured in car accidents each year.
The Insurance Information Institute reported that there were over 6.7 million auto accidents in the US in 2017. While fatalities are dropping each year, the number of reported accidents continues to grow every year. So, drivers have a chance of ending up in a car accident that they’ll (thankfully) walk away from.
However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have post-accident issues to deal with. Here’s a closer look at what to do after a car accident, both immediately and in the long-term.
What To Do After a Car Accident Checklist
This checklist of steps shows what you should do in case you are in a car accident.
The actions of what to do after a car accident are meant to protect you and your passengers as well as other drivers and people involved in the accident. It is essential to know what to do after a car accident with injuries and what to do after a vehicle accident that is your fault.
Below are the actions you should take after a car accident:
- Determine Your Safety
- Call 911
- Take Pictures of the Accident
- Give an Accurate Record
- Share Information
- Alert your Insurance Company
- Pay Attention to your Physical Condition
- Call an Attorney
Determine Your Safety
After you are in an accident, never drive away. If it is possible, you should get to a safe place out of the way of traffic. However, if you cannot drive your car or there are injuries, then your car will stay put. Do not ever leave the accident scene; otherwise, you open up a host of new problems.
Before doing anything else, turn on your flashers or put flares in the road so that you can be safe. You want other drivers to see your car, so keep your lights on if it is dark. If the accident is injury-free, you could move your vehicle to a safe spot out of traffic.
When it is safe, you should call 911 so an officer and other necessary emergency aid can help you. Most insurance companies require accident reports from the police. If there are injuries, you will want the fire department or an ambulance on the scene.
You should call 911 even if the accident is minor. The dispatch agent who answers the call has a set of questions to ask. Your answers to the questions determines if an emergency responder should visit the scene. For the safety of all involved in the accident, it is better to let the dispatch agent make the decision about first responders than to make the decision yourself.
If you are in a safe spot and you are able, take pictures of the accident. The pictures can help the insurance company, the police, and your attorney see what happened. When you take photos, shoot them from all angles, and don’t forget to take pictures of the road conditions. Those pictures could help you decide what to do after a car accident that is not your fault.
When you are shooting the photos, do not interfere with traffic or with the first responders dealing with the issue. You should take a picture of the other car’s license plate as well as the make and model. You should also get a picture of the driver’s licenses of the other driver and any witness, too. Don’t forget to take a picture of the first-responder vehicles and their identifying marks.
After you take the pictures, put them in a folder on your phone or computer so you can quickly find them if and when you need them.
Give an Accurate Record
Once the police arrive, they have a checklist to run through to record the accident’s facts. Answer their questions honestly. If you do not know the answer to a question, say that. After being in an accident, you might be running on adrenaline. So, if you were hurt, you might not feel pain or discomfort yet.
It is also helpful to see what the other people in the accident said to the police. If your stories are too different, then the Dallas – Fort Worth authorities might suspect that one of you is not telling the truth.
When you are at the scene of the accident, the driver of the other car or a first responder might ask you to sign something. Do not sign anything while you are at the scene of the accident. Tell the person asking for your signature that you are not comfortable signing something without having the time to read it.
While you are giving your record of the events, do not agree to any arrangements about repairs or financial situations. You might have an injury that would prevent you from making a sound decision at the scene of the accident. On the flip side, do not ask the other driver to sign anything either.
There is a chance that the police will not come to your accident, especially if it is not a serious one. Therefore, you and the other driver should exchange your names, addresses, and phone numbers. You should also exchange information about your car insurance. You can snap pictures of insurance cards.
You should also get information from any witnesses because they can help you if any legal issues arise. If the police do arrive and write a report, you should get a copy of the report or the number. Be sure to get the full police report from the local Dallas – Fort Worth police or the reporting jurisdiction.
Alert Your Insurance Company
Whether or not the accident is your fault, you should contact your insurance company. Most insurance companies ask that policyholders inform them as soon as possible about an accident, especially if there is an injury.
Your insurance company will want to know the details of the accident, including the police report number. When you report an accident to an insurance company, the agent usually records the phone call. So, when you explain the details of the accident, only tell the facts about what happened.
If you do not know the answer to a question, tell the agent. Insurance companies make money by not having to pay for repairs or medical bills. Do not admit to anything while talking to the insurance company, just provide facts. If the insurance company records the call, ask them to send you a copy of the recording.
Pay Attention to Your Physical Condition
The trauma of being in a car accident is not always immediately apparent. You might find that pain and discomfort appear within the next 24 to 48 hours after the accident. If you notice any pain or discomfort, you should see a doctor. The same goes for passengers, too.
If you lost consciousness or hit your head in a car accident, you should soon see a doctor. You could have a head injury or another serious problem that could affect your cognitive functions. If you do have an injury, let your auto insurance company know.
If you have to go to the hospital or see your health care provider, do not leave without records of the visit. Be sure that the health care provider lists the problems caused by the accident. Those records could help you if you have problems with your insurance company or with the other driver.
Save Your Records
Because car accidents can have repercussions, you should keep a file of all records about it. Record the dates and times you spoke with your insurance company, the information about the other driver, and receipts for any expenses, like a rental car or your deductible. You can also keep prints of your photos in your files.
Since car accidents often have financial repercussions from insurance companies and legal expenses, you will want to keep an accurate record of your related expenses.
Talk to an Attorney
If you have been in an accident in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, we can help you understand what to do after a car accident. Car accident lawyers want you to have the best possible outcome for you and your situation. We know that many car accidents last longer than the split second, and many come with medical, financial, and legal consequences.
An attorney specializing in car accidents can help you understand your rights if you are in an accident. They will help you work with the involved insurance companies, and they can help you collect records and receipts.
Accident attorneys understand how insurance companies work. They know how to negotiate to give you the speediest results with the best return on your investment. Accident attorneys are especially helpful if you are injured and your medical condition makes it difficult to make important decisions.
Remember that auto-accident attorneys also work with people who have been in accidents with trucks and motorcycles, too. If you need help from an experienced car accident attorney in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, give the staff at FortWorthCarWreckLawyer.com a call at (817) 934-6242.