A road accident can be a harrowing experience, especially if you have no idea what to do when it happens. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 2.24 million road accidents resulting in injuries in the year 2010. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that motor vehicle collision is the leading cause of death for people 15 to 29 years old. Many drivers—even those who practice safe and cautious driving—are likely to be involved in a road accident, especially if other motorists are at fault.
Being in an accident can be terribly inconvenient, and drivers have to deal with a number of different things such as hospital forms, car damage, traffic citations, and issues of liability. If you’ve had an accident, there are certain steps you have to take. These steps are crucial in ensuring the safety of everyone involved and in making sure that the process of handling the accident is done as legally and as properly as possible.
- Stay at the scene – if you leave the scene of the accident, you can be charged for being a hit-and-run driver, and it gets worse if you cause injuries or death. Never leave the scene until all the appropriate actions are done.
- Check for injuries – check if your passengers and the occupants of the other vehicles that are involved in the crash have been hurt. Call for medical attention immediately, especially if you see someone in a serious condition. Don’t move a person who is unconscious or who is experiencing back or neck pain, unless a hazard requires removing a person from the vehicle. If necessary, move the injured person carefully, with special attention to the head and neck to avoid causing further damage to the head and spine. Proof of injury is also necessary in applying for insurance claims.
- Document the accident – exchange contact and insurance information with the other motorists involved in the accident. Call the police for an official report. Take photos of the crash from all angles, zooming in on damage. The photos can help your insurance company determine how much you can be compensated for car damage and can also help in court if charges are filed. If the accident is serious, obtain legal representation right away to preserve evidence before the vehicles are transferred. Exchange information without apologizing, for you may be admitting legal liability.
- Talk to witnesses. Witnesses can be asked to remain on site and give their statements. Get their names, addresses, and contact numbers.
- Call your insurance company – contact your insurance agent or company to inform them about your situation. Informing the company of the accident—even if you think you are the one who caused it—can help the company document it properly so that you can be provided with the appropriate coverage under your policy. Explain the facts as clearly as possible.
- Keep track of medical treatment – if the accident causes you to seek medical treatment, keep track of the procedures you go through and the medications you receive. Request copies of medical bills and doctors’ reports so you can document and prove your medical expenses for insurance and legal purposes.
When you’ve had an accident, remain calm so you can follow these steps and do the right thing. Stay safe!