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What to Do if You Are in a Car Accident

Hopefully you will never need this information, but if you do find yourself in a car accident, whether you are the driver or the passenger, we have some tips we hope will help you through a traumatic time. 

All of us hope to avoid ever being in a car crash, but the sad truth is that sometimes auto accidents are unavoidable. If you do find yourself involved in a car accident, there are a number of smart steps you can take in the immediate aftermath of the crash to help make a bad situation a little bit more manageable. We hope these tips will help you if you ever do find yourself involved in an accident out on the road.

The very first thing you should do if you are in a car crash is to quickly check yourself and your passengers for injuries. This is important, so you can relay any medical emergencies to 911 when you call. If anyone in the car is experiencing back, neck, or head pain, it is important to keep them from moving until paramedics arrive — they may have sustained a neck or back injury, or even a traumatic brain injury, and EMTs know how to move a patient without causing further harm.

Next, if you’re not seriously injured, and if it’s safe to do so, move your car to the shoulder of the road and out of harm’s way. Put your vehicle in park, turn off your ignition, and put on your hand brake. And whether or not you are able to move your vehicle, be sure to turn on your hazard lights, so other drivers on the road know to be alert and cautious. If there’s a safe place for you to stand outside of your car and away from the roadway, you should exit your vehicle.

As soon as you’ve done a quick survey of the situation and moved to safety (if you’re able to), you should call the police to the scene, even if the accident you’ve been in is a minor one. A police accident report is an important tool when it comes to dealing with your car insurance company. Be as cooperative as possible with the police officers, and do your best to state facts but not opinion — this is not the time to take blame or accuse other drivers of wrongdoing. The police will objectively judge events and determine who, if anyone, is at fault in the crash.

If your accident is very minor and there aren’t any injuries, it’s possible that the police won’t come to the scene. If this happens to you, you can file an accident report through your state’s DMV.

Once you’ve called the police and emergency services, your next step should be to gather as much information from the scene of the accident as you can. Write down the names of all drivers and passengers, everyone’s insurance information, license plate numbers, and the make and model of all vehicles involved in the crash. If there are any eyewitnesses, gather their contact information, too, because there’s a chance that if they were not involved in the car crash they won’t stick around until the police arrive, but they may have important information to share later. When the authorities do arrive on scene, be sure to write down the name and badge number of any responding police officer. And if you have a phone with a camera, be sure to snap some photos of the accident scene. Documenting the crash can be a useful tool to help in the insurance claim process.

Be sure to stay on the scene of the car accident until after you’ve spoken with the responding police officers. Leaving the accident site, even if you’re pretty sure no one has been hurt, is a bad idea, and could even lead to legal trouble for you. After law enforcement gives you the ok to head home, do another scan of your body to see if anything hurts. Sometimes the adrenaline surge you get in an emergency situation can temporarily make you less aware that you’ve sustained an injury. If you have any head, neck, or back pain, go straight to the doctor so you can be assessed. You want to be sure that you receive any medical treatment you need as soon as possible, and also that any injuries you may have sustained in the auto accident are well-documented.

Once your physical well-being has been attended to, it’s time to call your insurance agency to report the accident. This should be a straight-forward process, but it can also feel overwhelming, especially if the car accident you were involved in was a serious one involving serious injury. Here at Burnett & Williams we are always available to help you move forward with your accident claim and answer any legal questions you might have. If you ever need our services, we’re here for you! If you do have serious injuries and/or damage to your vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact us at Burnett & Williams by phone at 800-969-1650 or through our website.