If you’ve never been in a car accident, consider yourself lucky. Even the best of drivers are at risk of being in an accident, so even if it’s only a fender bender, getting in an accident can be a stressful experience.
Doing the wrong thing after an accident can get you in trouble, so it’s best to arm yourself with all the information you need just in case you find yourself in an accident.
Keep Calm and Don’t Admit Fault
The moments after an accident can go fast, be confusing, and stressful. Even though it’s difficult, do your best to stay calm. If the other driver was being careless and was at fault it might be tempting to yell at them, but this can only add more stress to an already stressful situation.
It’s also important that even if you were at fault in the accident, you should never admit to fault until you’ve talked with a car accident attorney. Admitting fault may feel like the right thing to do but in some states it can be held against you.
Try Moving to Safety
If your car is really in rough shape after your crash, you may not be able to move your car. It’s also important to note that some states require that you leave your vehicle “as is” until you contact law enforcement. It’s best to find out individual state laws, so you can follow them as best as you can. An attorney, your insurance agent, or even someone at your local DMV should be able to help you.
If you can move over to the side of the road (and you’re not breaking any laws), it can keep traffic flowing and reduce the risk of subsequent accidents.
If you’re not sure whether the accident is severe enough for a police officer to come and write a report or assess damage, it’s best to call 911. The dispatcher can help you and tell you what you need to do.
If someone is injured or there is visible damage to the vehicles or property, you definitely need to call 911.
Assess Your Injuries
Many people who are involved in an accident are in shock after the crash occurs. Sometimes injuries don’t appear until hours or even days after the crash. While you have the right to refuse medical attention, it’s always a good idea to get checked out to make sure you don’t have any internal injuries or traumatic brain injury.
Your recollection of the accident will not be as accurate as it is right after it happens. If you are able, take pictures of the damage, the scene, and record your account of what happened. It’s also a good idea to get the contact information of any witnesses and exchange information with the other driver.
If you end up filing a claim after an accident or you get called into court, all of this information may be required. Time has a tendency to change the details of an event (it’s only natural), so the sooner you record your own account, the better.