Your first auto accident is never a pleasant experience. The shock alone is enough to confuse you and cause you to not think straight.
Getting into a car accident isn't as unlikely as you think. There are 2.35 million people in the United States who are injured every year in car accidents. You need to know what to do if this happens to you.
It doesn't matter if you're at fault or the other person is. There are steps you need to go through after an accident. Follow the seven steps below after your first auto accident to make sure you get the help you need.
1. Check For Injuries
Before you do anything, you need to check yourself for injuries at the scene. If you have something worse than a minor scratch, call for an ambulance right away. The longer you wait, the more risk you put yourself in.
If your injuries are bad enough, you should also try not to move. Wait for a passenger or the other drive to check on you. If the accident causes significant damage, then moving could make things worse.
If you don't find any injuries on yourself, then make sure you check on the other driver too. If you find them hurt in their car, then make sure to get help for them.
2. Get Everyone to Safety
Once you've made sure everyone is safe, you need to get off the road if you can. The first step is to move your vehicles to the side. If there are emergency lanes and your cars can drive, move them to the emergency lane.
Once your vehicles have been moved, put the emergency blinkers on. Doing this will let other drivers know there was an accident, and they should be careful when driving.
Once you get your vehicles to the side, make sure everyone steps away from the road. The last thing you want is to be clipped by a car that gets too close to the side.
3. Call the Police
Once you've secured the scene, call the police so you can make a report. If the accident is severe enough, they will come to the scene. Tell them all the details, and they will make a report for you.
Depending on your location, the police may not be able to send an officer to the scene. This usually happens when the accident isn't severe. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't file a police report.
In cases like this, head to the police station as soon as you can. File a report there, so you have a record of the accident. A police report will help when you're dealing with the insurance company.
4. Document the Details
If you want to improve your chances during the claim process, you need to get as many details as you can about the accident.
Start by taking pictures of everything. You need to get photos of all visible damage on both cars. These pictures will give insurance companies a place to start when they start the claims process.
The next thing you need to get is the information from the other driver. Get their name, insurance information, driver's license number, car make and model, and any additional detail you can think of.
Just make sure to not discuss who is at fault with the other driver. You don't want to say anything that will hurt your case.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
If you think you've gotten all the details you need, it's time to contact your insurance company. It isn't uncommon for drivers to make the call while they are at the scene of the accident. Doing this will allow you to figure out all the details while you can get them.
If you don't make the call to insurance when you're at the scene of the accident, make sure you call as soon as possible. You'll need to send the insurance company all the documentation about the accident and figure out how much your car repair and medical bills will cost.
Once they have your information, the claim process will start. Your insurance company will send a claims adjuster to figure out what your benefits are.
6. See a Doctor
Don't relax if you don't notice any injuries after the accident. Injuries won't always show right after they occur.
You'll be pumped full of adrenaline at the scene. Adrenaline can make it hard to notice the signs. In some cases, injuries may not show for days or weeks after the accident happens.
Get to a doctor as soon as you can after you make your report. A doctor will give you a full inspection and be able to tell you if you suffered an injury.
This is important for the claims process. The sooner your insurance company has the full details of your medical needs, the quicker they can get you the benefits you need.
7. Get a Vehicle Inspection
It isn't enough to look at the outside of your vehicle to figure out what your damages are. Those are only cosmetic problems.
An accident can cause damages under the hood of your car that are more serious. An auto shop will be able to tell you what's wrong.
If the damage to your car is bad enough, it could make your vehicle unsafe to drive. It isn't uncommon to have the frame of your car damaged. You'll need to get it repaired before you drive it again.
The longer you let these problems go undiagnosed and untreated, the higher chance you'll have of getting in another accident.
Take Your First Auto Accident Seriously
It can be hard to keep things straight after your first auto accident. Things move fast, and it's easy to miss the small details. Make sure you take things seriously so you can get everything taken care of that needs to be done.
Were you injured and need to get healthy after your accident? Head over to our fitness section to learn a few exercises that will help.