Automobile accidents can be scary. Not only is the impact of the accident itself frightening, but the events afterwards can be traumatizing if you do not take the necessary steps to protect yourself as soon as the car stops moving. Here's what you need to do.
For some people, accidents can happen in slow motion, while for others they can happen in the blink of an eye. Whether fast or slow, as soon as it is over, catch your breath and then check for injuries. While staying as calm as possible, check yourself first and then your passengers.
Stay in your vehicle and call the police. Exiting your vehicle may put you in harm's way. In fact, you are actually safer in your car than you are on the road unless the damage to the car is severe enough that the gas tank might explode.
Ask the police whether you should move your car. It is common to assume that you should stay put until police arrive, but it is generally safer to move your car off the road and as far onto the shoulder as you can. Again, this is for your safety. The police will be able to determine how and why the accident occurred even after you move your vehicle.
In the meantime, find your license, registration, and proof of insurance. The police will need to see it when they arrive. If you cannot find your proof of insurance, contact your insurance agent while you are waiting and have a copy emailed to you.
When the police arrive, stay calm and answer their questions as accurately as you can. They will need this information for their report. Be sure to ask for a copy of the report or the report number, as well as for the other driver's contact information and insurance before you leave.
Later that day
After you have been released from the accident by the police, see your doctor. This is important because even if you are not in pain, you could be injured. Soft tissue injuries, as well as injuries to your neck and back, may not surface immediately. In fact, what you may assume is just overall soreness from the impact of the accident can actually be whiplash, which can take weeks to recover from. Whiplash may prevent you from working or hinder you from going about your day-to-day life as normal.
When you get home, write down everything you remember in detail, including information about the traffic signals, any street signs, the weather, and neighboring cars. There is a chance that you may have missed something important when you gave your report to the police due to stress from the accident.
The next day
Contact an auto accident attorney to discuss your accident. You want to make sure you understand your legal rights before talking to your insurance company about getting the car fixed. In fact, your attorney may ask for you to take very specific pictures before any repairs are made. Talking with an automobile accident attorney will help you determine your next steps.
In the coming weeks
As time goes by and you get busy with life again, memories of the accident may start to slip from your mind. It is important, however, to stay in contact with your attorney for any new developments with your case. Make sure you keep a file of all paperwork regarding the accident, as well as a detailed phone log. You may need to refer to this information at a later date.
Finally, make sure you attend all necessary court dates. It is important that you make every effort to attend or to communicate with your attorney if your schedule prevents it.
Car accidents can be frightening but, if you know what to do and what not to do, you can get back on the road to recovery soon.
To learn more, contact an auto accident attorney.