Being in a car accident is incredibly frightening - whether it's minor or serious, your first one or not. When you're in a state of panic, it can be hard to think clearly. Your focus is on what just happened and if everyone is ok. Thinking of practical next steps can seem nearly impossible when you're worried about whether a child in the backseat is hurt.
While it's not a topic you necessarily want to think about, it's better to have a plan in place before an accident occurs. Here are five things you should do if you are in a car accident.
1. Check to see that everyone is ok
If you have passengers in the car, you're probably going to immediately see if they are hurt. Stay as calm as possible. If you hear a child crying, remember the tears may not be stemming from a serious injury. They could simply be frightened. While checking on others may be instinctive, there's someone you might overlook - yourself. Make sure you are ok too.
2. Call the police
You might think this step is unnecessary if it's a seemingly minor accident. You may feel like it's a bit dramatic to call the police for what appears to be a fender bender. But it's the smart thing to do. Not only can they offer assistance in ensuring everyone is ok and everything is taken care of, but a police report could make a big difference down the road if a so-called minor accident ends up causing serious injuries.
3. Keep quiet
Besides checking on the safety of the occupants of any other cars involved and exchanging insurance information, the conversation should end there. Unfortunately, anything you say could ultimately be used against you. A sincere statement of "I'm sorry this happened" could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. This is also important when it comes to speaking with insurance representatives. Any statements you give could work against you. Talk to an attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents first before you speak with insurance representatives, including your own.
4. Take pictures
Get out that cell phone and start snapping photos. Take as many pictures as necessary to ensure that evidence is documented. From damage to your car to skid marks to the scene of the accident - if you don't gather your proof now, it will be gone.
5. Go to the doctor
Perhaps you are feeling fine at first. Or maybe the pain doesn't seem unbearable, so you don't think it's anything serious. When it comes to injuries or pain caused by car accidents, it's always better to be safe than sorry. In addition, documentation from a doctor will be necessary if your injuries lead you to pursuing a lawsuit to get compensation for your suffering. Error on the side of caution - see a doctor.
Having a plan outlined in your mind will help you avoid the fear of not knowing what to do if you unfortunately find yourself as a car accident victim.