Bam! You just got into a car accident. Your car is damaged and your world might be spinning. Question: What do you do next? What do you do after a car accident? Many people like you are unsure how to handle the paperwork or the circumstances of a car accident. In 2017, Idaho tracked the severity of crashes within state borders and what dates were most likely to see an incident on the road. As more drivers travel during summer vacation, risk of being in an accident increases exponentially from April to early September. According to Idaho car accident statistics, June has the highest number of fatal crashes while December and January have the highest number of total crashes. Crashes that happen in the winter months are more likely to be attributed to severe weather conditions, such as ice and snow, rather than being hit by another driver. Since crashes can occur at any time of year, regardless of severity, there are a few things you can learn beforehand to make the crash less traumatic and expensive for you and your family.
10 Steps to Follow After a Car Accident
It’s important to have a procedure to follow after a car accident occurs to help keep yourself and other passengers calm and to help engage ‘emergency’ mode rather than ‘panic’. Panic mode often results in shock. An inability to prevent further injury to yourself or others while in emergency mode can help keep your mind sharp and on the task at hand. By following all of these steps, you will be more confident in your situation. Each step is designed to keep you rational during a stressful time and give your mind something to focus on. As you learn each step, you will be ready to deal with whatever accident may occur and help decide on choosing an accident lawyer in Boise. These steps are inspired by the Insurance Information Institute (III).
Check yourself for injuries
The aftermath of a car accident is an emotional time and it’s advised to react calmly, both for mental and physical safety. Examine yourself to determine if you’re injured, making your own body the priority before helping passengers. This is not selfish and allows you to ascertain the severity of the crash. If you are injured or others in the car have received injuries, call 911 or, if you’re unable to do so, ask someone else. If seriously injured, do not try to move as it may lead to further pain and/or increase the extent of the injuries.
Check on your fellow passengers
After checking your own injuries, you can focus on the well being of others. This can be done either physically, if you can move and your wounds are not too serious, or verbally, by asking if anyone else has been hurt. If you find any of your passengers severely injured or unconscious, leave them in their current state until emergency services arrive, and comfort them with your words. If the passengers have minor or no wounds, exit the vehicle.
Preserve the scene
Turn on your car’s hazard lights to let other vehicles and pedestrians know of potentially dangerous conditions, and to signal for help. If your lights don’t work and/or it’s dark, an emergency flashlight can be kept in the car. Roadside flares can also be seen for a great distance and can mark your location for emergency services if you have gone off the road. Preserving the scene helps authorities get a better picture of what caused the crash and how to potentially prevent it from happening in the future.
Get to safety
Car accidents are a hazard, whether the engine is leaking oil or the crash occurred in a dangerous location. Relocating closer to the roadside, or sidewalk, can prevent further injury from navigating difficult terrain and make it easier to flag down a passing car. Unless your car is interfering with traffic, do not attempt to move your car. Leave it where it is and let the emergency services handle it.
Unless injuries prevent you from doing so, call 911 as early as possible. In other circumstances, call the authorities after you are safe. No matter how minor the case may be, it’s good to notify the police. They can help keep traffic under control, prevent any dispute if other drivers were involved in the accident, and file a police report. Their report will help in filing a claim to your insurance company, even for covering your car’s damages. The police can also contact other emergency services in case your car requires towing or someone requires medical attention.
Wait until help arrives
While waiting for the police and other emergency services, open your emergency car kit and get the flares. Set the flares around your vehicle as a warning for approaching cars to decelerate and switch lanes if possible. Keep a first-aid kit in the car so minor scratches can be bandaged and more severe injuries can be stabilized. A wilderness survival or medical kit is compact enough to stay in your car at all times with ample supplies for most of your needs.
The Insurance Information Institute recommends the exchange of important information with other drivers involved in the accident. Avoid blaming or fault-finding with the other driver as it may escalate to a heated discussion, or even a fight. If all parties remain calm during the exchange, the process will go quickly. When filing the insurance claim, the adjuster will determine who is at fault depending on the information the parties provided (including photographs), inspection of the vehicles/property damaged along with supporting documentation from the police. For convenience, keeping a dedicated envelope in your glove box can help you quickly find important information after a crash. The envelope should contain:
- Full name and contact information
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Insurance company and policy number
- Vehicle description such as type, color and model
- Location of accident
Keep a record of the incident
As mentioned at the previous step, an adjuster will need information to make a decision of the situation. The more you record, the better it will help your case.
- Take pictures. There should be pictures of your vehicle and the damage done to all cars involved in the accident. Different angles of the cars, license plates, and possible environmental hazards can help prove your case.
- Talk to witnesses. Write down the names of the witnesses and their contact information. If they are uncomfortable giving it, thank them for their time and move on to the next one.
- Identify the officers. Record the name and badge number of all responding officers.
- Get a copy. Obtain a copy of the accident report from the police officers present. Your insurer may ask for a copy of the report for the car insurance claim.
Notify your insurer
Start the claims process with your insurance agent by calling them. They can help you gather any other information you may need and can tell you what to expect for the claims process.
Contact a car accident attorney
One of the best ways to protect your rights is getting a car accident attorney. Do not delay in retaining an attorney. If you suffer a physical and/or emotional trauma, a lawyer can help compensate your case. The car accident lawyer in Boise you can trust is Johnson and Lundgreen. Some insurance companies may mismanage claims, or settle for less than you deserve. A dedicated attorney has your best interests in mind and can help you get the money you need to recuperate and move on with your life.