We all hope that we never get into a car accident, but most of us will be involved in one at some point. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are about 6 million car accidents every year in the United States.
If and when it happens to you, it will be a stressful event and you will likely have a million concerns and questions going through your mind. You may feel confused and have a hard time thinking logically, so here are five things you should do following a car accident:
1. Don't leave the scene of the accident.
You're not supposed to leave the scene of an accident even if it's just a fender bender. If you hit someone else and leave, that's considered a hit and run, which is a felony in states like Florida. Whether you're at fault or not, you need to stay at the scene of the accident until the police come.
2. Move vehicles from the roadway.
While you should stay at the scene of an accident, you should not stop in the road where you could be struck by traffic. If your car can still drive, drive it onto the shoulder or somewhere out of the way of traffic. You'll sometimes see signs on the road that say “If no injury move vehicle from roadway.” That's because you will want to avoid getting into another accident after the first one. It's common to see people stopped in the middle of the road after a fender bender and they're acting like it's a murder scene and they can't disturb any evidence before CSI gets there. That's not going to happen. Get your vehicle out of the road if you can!
3. Check yourself and those in the other vehicle/s for injuries.
If you're seriously injured, you shouldn't move because you could make your injuries worse. In that case, just wait for the first responders. If you're not badly injured, you should check on your passengers and the people in the other vehicle/s. Keep in mind that the adrenaline running through your veins after a traumatic event like a motor vehicle accident can mask the pain of an injury, so you may not be able to judge how badly you are injured by how you're feeling right after the accident.
4. Call the police.
No matter if the accident is a fender bender or a serious collision with injuries, you should contact the authorities so that an accident report can be filled out. If the other party is at fault, you will need the police to cite them. If you're injured, the police report is vital for getting the insurance company to pay for your expenses.
5. Document the accident.
Write down the other vehicle's license plate number, the names and insurance information of the people in the other vehicle, and the name of the responding officers. And take pictures of the wreck and talk to any witnesses. Ask the police for a copy of the accident report. You can have too little documentation, but you can't have too much. There's a saying “If it wasn't documented, it didn't happen.” Proof that someone else was at fault in an accident is important when you're trying to get their insurance company to reimburse you for your injuries or damage to your vehicle. After you're done at the scene of the accident, you'll need to contact the insurance company to get the ball rolling on making a claim.
If you don't want to leave getting the best resolution to your personal injury case to chance, you should consider working with a personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys can be retained at no cost out of pocket to you because they're paid out of the fees that they recover for you. Insurance companies may try to give you the runaround when it comes to paying you for your medical bills like they should. An attorney can help you to get everything you're entitled to.