7 Critical Steps to Take After a Car Accident

No one wants to be involved in a car accident, but every
year thousands of men and women suffer serious injuries
behind the wheel. Many more thousands sustain property
damage and suffer inconvenience in fender benders,
accidents that are less serious but can still be quite
traumatic.

lf you are driving along and feel a sudden jolt, it may take a few seconds even to realize that you have been in an accident. Once you do realize that your car has been hit, it is important to take the right steps The things you do now could mean the difference between getting the compensation you need for your injuries and property damage, and being left high and dry to recover on your own. Here are some critical steps you should take after any accident, no matter how minor.

Step 1 – Move to a Safe Location

Safety always comes first, so it is important to move your
car to a safe location and encourage the other driver to do
the same. Even if the car has sustained damage, you should
be able to move it to the side of the road or push it out
of the lane of traffic.

lf the car is immobile and cannot be moved, put up some
road flares so other drivers can see the vehicle and avoid
another crash. Call the police right away if one or more
cars cannot be moved.

Step 2 – See if Anyone is Hurt

Putting safety first also means making sure no one on the
scene has been injured. Even a low-speed crash can result
in serious soft-tissue injury, so do not assume that
everyone is OK just because neither car was going fast.
Check yourself for injuries, ask your passengers if they

are hurt, and ask the other drivers and passengers if they
have been injured. If anyone has been injured, call 911 for
help immediately.

Step 3 – Call for Help if Needed

If there are injuries to anyone involved in the accident,

you should call for help right away. Use your cell phone to
call 911, provide the exact location and wait for help to
arrive.

You will also need to call the police if one or more

vehicles is disabled and will need to be towed from the
scene. Check the wheels, frame, and other major components
for damage and call a tow truck or roadside assistance
service if the vehicle appears unsafe to drive.

Step 4- Exchange Insurance information

You will need to exchange insurance and contact information
with the other driver involved in the accident. Get your
insurance card out of the glove box as soon as you can and
offer it to the other driver, along with your contact
information.

Ask the other driver for the same information and write
down their full insurance information. You will need the
name of the insurance company, the activation and
expiration date of the policy, the policy number, and the
full name of the covered individual. Call the police at

once if the driver is unable to produce their insurance
information. Be sure to write down the license plate of the
vehicle first.

Step 5 – Document the Scene

The right documentation is important, so take lots of
pictures. Whether you use your cell phone or a standalone
camera, you should capture images of the area where the
accident happened, including documentation of the weather
conditions at the time and the location of stop signs, red
lights, and other traffic control devices.

Document damage to your own car and the other vehicle as
well. Take long-distance overview shots that show the
dents, breaks, and damage in context, then zoom in and take
close-up shots of the damage itself. These pictures will be
critical going forward, and they can help the insurance
adjuster determine who was at fault and what transpired
during the accident.

Step 6 – Get a Police Report

You do not always need a police report, but there are a
number of circumstances where such a re port will be
critical. If the two drivers cannot agree on who was at
fault or what happened, a police report is crucial. You
should call the police as soon as it becomes evident that
there is a disagreement.

You should also insist on a police report if one or more
vehicles has sustained significant damage or if there are
injuries to a driver or passenger. In many states a police
report is required in such circumstances, so call for help

as soon as you know there are injuries or significant
damage.

Step 7 – Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

You need to take care of the other six steps on your to-do
list, but as soon as they are done, you need to report the
accident to your insurance company. Have all your
documentation with you when you call, including the
insurance information you took down earlier and any
pictures you captured at the accident scene.

Be sure to get a claim number from the representative you
speak to, and instructions on how to submit the pictures
and other documentation you captured. Most insurance
companies allow customers to upload photos online, but you
may need to set up an account before you can send the
pictures.

No matter how careful you are, accidents still happen. If
you are the victim of an accident, you need to take the
right steps as soon as the cars stop moving. Taking the
steps outlined above is the best way to protect your rights
and help you get reimbursement for your medical bills,
property damage, and other expenses associated with the
accident, including car parts and automotive repairs.

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