Vehicle miles traveled in the United States increased by over 11 percent between 2020 and 2021. This was to be expected as things began opening up and citizens started to get vaccinated, but it meant a significant rise in the amount of danger on the roads.
That’s why it’s more important now than ever to remain diligent on the road and to always know the steps to take after a car accident. If you’ve never been in one, though, it can be difficult to know what you should do.
Luckily, we’re here to help. Read on to learn eight of the most important things you should know.
1. Check for Injuries and Move to Safety
The first (and most important) thing you should do is determine whether or not anyone is injured.
If you notice injuries, it’s important to call 911 and get police and an ambulance on the scene. This is going to help everyone involved stay safe, but it might also be a requirement depending on the state you’re in.
In Alabama, you’re required to report if the accident results in injury or death. In minor accidents in which only property was damaged, you don’t have to (though it can still be smart to have it documented).
Next, you’ll need to get the vehicles to safety.
You can only do this if the cars involved are still operational, but if you can’t then you should turn on hazards. When you move the cars, make sure they’re moved completely off the road. If you have flares or emergency reflectors, setting them up can be a good idea.
2. Keep the Conversation to a Minimum
Next, keep the conversation to a minimum. It can be tempting to fight back if the other driver is being argumentative, but you don’t want to accidentally reveal too much information. Be sure to not admit any mistakes you made behind the wheel, and don’t admit fault.
3. Exchange Information
You will, however, need to exchange information. Typically, this means your name and insurance information, but phone numbers can also be smart if both parties are willing.
If the police are called, make sure you get a copy of the report and the report number. You’ll also need to gather the police officer’s name and their badge number. All of these things are going to help solidify your case if you have to involve a lawyer.
4. Document the Crash
Whether you’ve moved the cars or not, it’s important to take photos. Here are a few things you’ll need:
- Your personal account (weather, the speed you were driving, etc.)
- Photos of both cars and the scene
When you take your photos, try to get as much detail as possible. Include detailed shots of the damage, but then take pictures of your entire vehicle. This is going to help the insurance company determine which parts of your car are damaged, and you’ll be able to get a much more accurate estimate for repairs.
5. Seek Medical Attention
Even if your injuries aren’t major, it’s important to seek medical attention. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to receive compensation for your injuries.
Another reason this is so important is that injuries don’t always make themselves apparent. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may have internal injuries or even brain trauma that needs to be dealt with. No matter how you’re feeling, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when you’re involved in an accident.
6. Decide Whether to File a Claim
If you’re not at fault, you’ll need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Be sure to speak with your insurance company first, though, as they might be able to file a claim on your behalf.
In some cases, you might feel more comfortable speaking with an attorney before you make any phone calls. If that’s the case for you, make sure you ask for specific advice on how to handle the situation. In some cases, your lawyer might be able to file the claim on your behalf or get the process started for you.
If you’re not sure about whether you should file a claim, a lawyer can also help you make that decision.
7. Do You Need a Lawyer?
Some claims — especially those with serious injuries — require the education and skill that come with an attorney. If you find that your claim involves a lot of time, money, or complications, it might be best to involve a professional.
Even if you’re not entirely sure, it never hurts to speak with an attorney. You’ll know whether or not they need to get involved, and you’ll be able to ask for their advice in areas you might be confused. If they do need to get involved, you’ll know you’re covered.
A car accident attorney in Birmingham comes with the knowledge and expertise that’s needed to help with your settlement. They’ll be able to handle everything from the claim to the compensation. You won’t have to worry about missing deadlines or court dates, as they’ll even be able to help keep you accountable for that.
All you’ll have to worry about is your recovery.
Remember These Steps to Take After a Car Accident
When you have a list of the right steps to take after a car accident, mistakes are a lot less likely to happen. No matter how calm you are, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks when you’re trying to problem-solve. Keeping a level head and checking things off your mental list can help a lot, though.
If you still need help after the fact, we’re here to help. Contact us today to get started.