While all vehicle accidents are unexpected, a serious car crash can be especially overwhelming. Even worse, if you’ve suffered a significant injury, you might not know what actions you should take to protect your finances and your health. At the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave, we recommend that accident victims take the following steps to protect themselves after accidents. Read on if you’re not sure what to do after a serious car crash.
What to Do After a Serious Car Crash
Check for Serious Car Crash Injuries
Immediately after your car accident, check yourself and your loved ones for injuries. Start with a physical once-over, assessing yourself for any cuts, scrapes, or severely sore areas. If you have sustained a serious injury, try not to move. Instead, stay still and wait for help from emergency responders. If your injuries are not severe, do your best to help provide first aid to any others who are injured.
Don’t Move Your Vehicle.
In minor accidents that don’t involve injuries, drivers are typically urged to drive their vehicles to the side of the road so that the collision doesn’t impede traffic. However, following a serious car crash, it’s important to stay where you are. To alert other drivers before the police arrive, you can put on your hazard lights and set up emergency triangles if you have some.
Exercise Caution If You Step Outside Your Vehicle.
Especially if the crash took place on a busy street or highway, be very careful if you choose to exit your vehicle at all. You may not be thinking logically due to a head injury, adrenaline, or nerves, and you could accidentally put yourself in danger. If you’re concerned about stepping into traffic, remain in your vehicle if it’s safe to do so.
Call 911 to Report a Serious Car Crash
After you’ve checked yourself and your loved ones for injuries, you should call 911 and remain at the scene of the accident until help arrives. The officers who respond will document the scene and write a report. Tell the police what you recall happening, but make sure that you do not apologize or admit fault. Even if you think you caused the accident, that may not be entirely accurate. You could be entirely unaware of another factor – a factor that may have been the actual cause of the collision.
Exchange Information with the Other Driver
Never leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information with the other driver. Make sure to get the other driver’s full name, address, and phone number, as well as the name of their insurance company and the driver’s policy number. Additionally, write down the driver’s license plate number and driver’s license number. You should also note the location of the accident and the make and model of the other driver’s vehicle.
Remember, when speaking with the other driver, do not discuss who was at fault. If the other driver is combative, just wait in your vehicle for the police to arrive and get the driver’s information from the officer. Emotions often run high after a collision, so trust your instincts. If another driver or a witness appears to be impaired or aggressive, avoid interacting with them and wait for the police in your car.
Thoroughly Document the Crash
To protect yourself, you need to thoroughly document both the crash and the scene around the crash. First, use your smartphone to take as many pictures as possible. Your photo documentation should include the state of both vehicles, the accident scene, nearby intersections, traffic control devices, speed limit signs, and other relevant details. You should also take photos of any visible injuries you have, such as cuts or bruises. If you cannot take pictures yourself, ask a friend or family member to take them for you with your phone. Additionally, if any witnesses saw what happened, ask them for their names and contact information as well.
Get Medical Attention Immediately After the Crash
You might feel physically fine after you leave the scene of an accident. Unfortunately, you may have suffered significant injuries, some of which may not show symptoms for several days. For this reason, it is imperative that you see a doctor immediately after your accident. A doctor will be able to assess any potential injuries, ideally treating you before any complications can occur. Additionally, insurance companies may check to confirm that you sought medical attention after the accident. If you wait to seek medical attention, insurers may argue that your injuries were caused by an event that occurred long after you drove away from the scene of the crash.
Contact the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Finally, be sure to report the collision to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. One important note to keep in mind: you should never agree to give the company a recorded statement or to sign any documents. Only after securing legal counsel should you consider making a statement or signing anything in regards to an insurance claim.
It can be hard to know what to do after a serious car crash. You might be injured; you might also be worried about damage to your vehicle. Ultimately, the best course of action is to remain calm, check yourself for injuries, document the scene, and be cautious in the days following the accident.
A serious car accident can cause life-altering injuries. Those injuries can leave you reeling under the weight of mounting expenses and a long recovery process. If you have suffered serious injuries in an accident because of someone else’s negligence, you should talk to an experienced injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Call us today to request a free case evaluation at 417-322-2222 (Springfield office) or 417-624-4258 (Joplin office).
Original blog post published on March 17, 2021. Updated on October 27, 2021.