Fortunately, not all traffic accidents are major events; most are only fender-benders. Still, any collision is a jarring experience for your nerves, at the very least.
Think ahead and keep these six steps in mind in case you should ever be the victim of a vehicle accident.
1. Check everyone for injuries
Naturally, you will check yourself first. If nothing is broken and you seem to be OK otherwise, check your passengers and anyone else at the crash scene. If there are injuries, or even if someone simply feels dizzy or lightheaded, call 911 to summon emergency medical personnel.
2. Call the police
Even if the collision is a mild rear-ender with little damage to either vehicle, call the police. You will want a copy of the police report to give to your attorney who will use it when filing an insurance company claim for the compensation you are due.
3. Exchange insurance information
While you wait for the police to arrive, you can exchange insurance information with the other driver. Do not discuss who was at fault. A law enforcement officer will assess the situation and his or her conclusions will become part of the report.
4. Collect accident details and photos
Jot down as much information as you can about the accident. Make note of weather conditions, markers such as street or highway signs, which direction you were traveling and which direction the other driver was traveling. Use your cellphone to take pictures of the vehicle damage from different angles. Photograph the crash site and the license plate number of the other car.
5. Get witness contact information
If there were any witnesses, ask if they would be willing to give you their contact information: name, phone number and email address.
6. Visit a doctor
Seek prompt medical attention, even if you think you have no injuries. Symptoms do not always appear right away, but they might begin to show up in a few days’ time. For example, dizziness, recurring headaches or feelings of confusion might signal a head injury. A prompt evaluation will be best for your well-being. Also, the doctor will write a medical report that, along with the police report, will provide essential information for your attorney to use in negotiating with an insurance company on your behalf.