Saturday, December 1, 2012

What To Do After A Car Accident: A Checklist

If you've been in an accident, you're probably feeling shaken, confused, and stressed out. That's very common, and you don't need to worry. If you search the internet, there are plenty of websites to tell you what to do. To help you get a grip on the first steps after an accident, we've written this little guide.

1. Do not leave the accident scene until the police have given you permission. For most accidents, the police don't arrive. If this is the case for you, just make sure you have all the information you need from the other driver and make sure you are uninjured.

2. If someone else gets injured during the accident, call for help IMMEDIATELY.

3. Turn on your emergency/hazard lights to alert other drivers about the situation.

4. Get contact information from any witnesses. If you don't do this, it could come down to your word against the other drivers, which can make it difficult to deal with insurance issues.

5. Get the other driver's name, driver's license number, license plate number, type of car, etc. Also get the name of their insurance company, their policy number, and any other identifying data.

6. If there are police present, ask for an incident number. This will help you get a police report later, which will show any citations and the officer's understanding of the event.

7. Do not accept fault, even if you believe you might be responsible, and do not apologize. You don't know all the details yet, and you might later find out something else caused the accident. Make a statement only to the police.

8. Write down all the details of the accident while they are fresh in your mind. Note all your own actions, the location, time, weather, distractions like road conditions. Also write down the direction you were driving, the direction the other driver was going, the speed you were traveling, the speed limit, traffic signs present, etc.

9. You might be injured - it's hard to tell at the accident because of the adrenaline and endorphins pulsing through your body. You should always go see a medical professional as soon as you feel pain.

10. Be honest with your doctor. Tell him or her about EVERY single detail of you pain. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, memory loss, etc., may all seem small and very temporary, but they might not be, and need to be recorded.

11. Take photos of your car and your injuries right after the accident. If you need to explain property damage or medical expenses to the insurance company, this will help a lot.

12. Keep a journal after the accident with any details you remember. Especially keep track of your pain, discomfort, sleep loss, anxieties. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common after car accidents and should be identified as soon as possible so you can get the help you need.

13. Be careful what you tell people about the accident. Whether you were the at fault party or not, these details can come up if someone decides to pursue a claim for damages and you don't want one slip of the tongue to prevent justice.

14. Don't sign any releases from the insurance company until you are comfortable that you will not need any further compensation for property or medical damages.

We hope this checklist helps relieve the stress of a car accident for you.

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