What To Do If You’ve Just Been in a Car Accident

The Covid-19 pandemic changed society in a number of ways over the past two or three years, including in the way we communicate, care for others, educate children, work, and more. One small silver lining to our stay-at-home lifestyle should have been fewer auto accidents – but that hasn’t happened. 

There were 16 percent fewer cars on the road during the pandemic in 2020, according to Zendrive, a smartphone driving app. But yet, phone use was up 38 percent, speeding up 27 percent and hard braking up 25 percent, Zendrive reported. 

And driving habits continue to trend in a dangerous – and sometimes fatal – direction. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes in early 2022, which represents an increase of 7 percent compared to the 8,935 fatalities from the same quarter in 2021. This is the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002. 

Let’s hope that you’re never in the position to experience an auto accident but in case you’re confronted with it, you should know how to proceed. Here’s what to do if you are involved in a road crash.

What to Do Immediately Following a Collision

Have you been involved in an auto accident? Whether or not you caused a collision, you should be prepared to act in your best interest despite the shock and stress that immediately follows a crash. Stay calm and assess the health and safety of your passengers before you do anything else. Call 911 right away if you or anyone else in your car is injured. Your first priority should always be to make sure that help is on the way for anyone who needs medical attention. 

Once you’ve done that, get everyone – including the car – out of harm’s way. If the property damage is minor and you can do so safely, move your car out of traffic. Make sure your hazard lights are on to alert other drivers. 

Call to Report the Accident With Law Enforcement

After you’ve exited the vehicle safely and checked on the drivers and passengers in other vehicles for injuries, make sure help is on the way if the situation calls for that. If the accident is minor and there are no injuries, it may not always seem necessary to call the police but some states require it. In Louisiana, motorists involved in an automobile accident must report the accident to the local police department whenever an injury or death occurs, or if there is over $500 in property damages. 

Whatever you do, don’t leave until they arrive and be prepared to share the exact location of the accident. You may be asked to provide the city, street name, house number you’re closest to, mile markings, traffic signs or signals, travel direction and whatever else that would help them find you quickly and easily. 

Exchange Information With the Other Driver

If you’ve determined it’s safe to talk with the other driver, do so calmly if there are no police present. Be polite, don’t blame others and don’t admit fault. Exchange basic information with other drivers: name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number and insurance company details. But DON’T discuss blame or any other specific details about the accident. Ask witnesses for names, phone numbers and addresses.

It’s best to avoid discussion of who is at fault because that’s for the insurance companies to decide. If you do decide to talk with the other driver, stick to the facts.  

Record Important Details About the Accident

One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to record details about it ASAP. This can help protect you in the event of filing a claim against an at-fault driver and to ensure you’re treated as fairly as possible. 

Take pictures with your cell phone camera if it’s safe to do so. Secure your vehicle for transport and remove valuables or other personal items. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you were injured, even if you think your injuries are minor. And photograph your injuries if they are visible! 

Then while your memory is still fresh, write notes for your records on everything about the accident, including weather, time, location, statements made, etc. Once you’ve got everything down you can remember, contact your insurance agent. If necessary, revisit the accident scene and take photos. Look for skid marks or anything else that seems important. 

Obtain the police reports as soon as they are available and share those with your insurance agent. You’ll need to evaluate damage to your car and get repair estimates.

Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney About the Accident 

The key to keeping it together after a crash is to prepare before an accident occurs. Start by assembling an accident kit for your car, and keep it in your trunk. Include basic medical supplies, a pen and paper for notes, and medical alert cards for any family member with allergies or other medical conditions.

One of the most important calls you can make in the event of an accident (after police and your insurance agent) is to speak with a personal injury attorney. Especially if you are injured and/or there is extensive property damage or if anyone is pressuring you into a quick settlement. If you’ve been injured or wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.