If you’ve never been involved in a car accident, it’s not uncommon to wonder what you should do. The moment another car strikes yours, the shock sets in. You didn’t expect to be the victim of someone else’s negligence today, and you have no idea what to do next. You are in shock, you’re scared, and you’re worried. Not knowing how to handle your situation is all right, and it’s not uncommon. The first thing you should do is stop your car and get out. No matter how minor it is, never keep going. Always stop the car and get out. Now get your phone and call the police.
Inform them where and who you are, what happened, and ask them to assist. When you hang up, take photos of the accident. Many road signs ask that accident vehicles involved in minor accidents are moved off the road, which could mean the scene is compromised. You want the proof that someone else hit you, even though it’s usually obvious based on the location of damage on both vehicles involved in the accident.
The next thing you do is prepare your information. Get your license and insurance card. You can exchange this information with the other driver, but do not speak to them other than to ask if they are all right. Do not speak of the case. Anything you say could be used against you even if you didn’t cause the accident. It’s human nature to apologize for things that aren’t your fault, but this can be used against you by the other driver or even witnesses. If you say sorry, you are insinuating you are responsible for the accident even if you’re not.
Speak to the Police
When the police arrive, speak to them. Tell them what happened, not what you think happened. If you didn’t see something, don’t’ say it. If you just assume the other driver was speeding, keep that to yourself. Unless you know for a fact the other driver was texting, distracted, speeding, or doing anything else, don’t speak it. Speak only the facts.
Speak to Insurance
When you are finished with the police, call your insurance agency. There are many reasons to do this even when the accident is not your fault. If you live in a no-fault state, you’re calling them regardless. If the other driver is uninsured, you’ll need to use your insurance company. You also want to call and get the accident on record in case they try to report you as the at-fault driver on the other side.
Make a File
Once you are finished with these things, take your photos, your accident report, and all other documentation associated with your accident and put them in it. You want accurate information and records, and you want to keep your files close.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you assume your injuries aren’t present or that you suffered nothing more than a few bruises and what might turn into a lot of soreness tomorrow, you need to seek medical attention. Many injuries are invisible for a few days or even longer. They should be looked at, you should be diagnosed as early as possible, and you should cover all your bases.
Call an Attorney
If someone else caused your accident and you suffered serious injuries, call an attorney. You must protect yourself and protect your rights if you plan on suing, and this is easier when someone else can help. Someone familiar with the law and personal injury cases is who you need on your side. They can help you decide what to do, what paperwork is required, and what you do and do not have to do following an accident.