The first thing to do after any vehicle collision is to make sure everyone is ok, potentially calling the authorities if not.
Roadway crashes are scary but commonplace in today’s highway-centric culture. If you’re asking yourself, what should I do after a car accident, there are many driver responsibilities and obligations after a car accident, such as to:
- Pull over to a safe location, and check if everyone is ok.
- Set up highway flares and alert oncoming traffic, if needed.
- Call authorities if anyone is injured, or if there is over $1,500 in apparent damage.
- Show your I.D. and insurance information to authorities and other involved parties.
- Gather Driver’s License and insurance information for other motorists involved.
- Seek a legal opinion if there’s personal injury or significant property damage.
After an accident, you may be in shock or suffering from memory loss. Try to stay calm, sticking to asking questions, writing notes, and snapping photos.
You May Want to Call the Police
The police may be called by another party or passerby, or may otherwise show up without warning. You may also feel the need to call them yourself, for any reason.
Stick to discussing facts with officers, focusing on what is verifiable. Avoid making judgments, speculations, or conjectures. Try to recall vehicle headlight-status, speed, and location throughout the collision. Having this information in the police report can be beneficial to verify your story.
Be Sure to Ask for the Police Report Number
If you’re asking, what should I do after a car accident when the police arrive, there are a few things that will help the process. Always get the police report information and talk to them early when they arrive. But be careful conversing with the officers, because anything you tell them can also be used against you in court.
You are under no legal obligation to answer police questions, but they can legally compel you to:
- show your insurance information
- show your driver’s license
- submit to sobriety testing
Check Everyone’s Health Vitals
Be sure to ensure everyone is safe and uninjured. If you, your passenger, or another party believes they may have suffered injuries, call 911. If a party is injured, do not attempt to move them. Instead, leave them where they are unless they are in danger of further injury.
If necessary, you may need to perform CPR. Do your best to remain calm and help anyone injured.
Be Prepared for a Potential Hit and Run
Hit and runs are a real possibility, so memorize license plates and vehicle features quickly if possible.
Try to observe the whole license plate, vehicle make, model, and color. Sometimes drivers will come out of a state of shock and leave in an attempt to evade responsibility, so you may have a narrow window of time to gather this information. Do not chase the driver if they flee the scene.
Other Things to Look Out for After an Accident
Several safety risks can arise after a traffic collision, such as:
- Downed power lines
- Passing traffic
- Any train tracks nearby
Being involved in a crash on the road leaves one in a dangerous position.
Rather than going the expected speed limit, you are now stopped, which creates a dangerous speed-difference between you and oncoming traffic. Drivers cannot always get their vehicles out of the roadway. If available, set up triangles or flares.
Downed Power Lines
Power lines can fall during car collisions. Always be aware of overhead lines in the aftermath of an accident, and be mindful that if they fall on your car, any metal inside or outside your car could give a fatal shock. If power lines fall on your car, wait for the fire department to open your door for you.
This problem requires remedy such as traffic flares, triangles, or anything reflective or bright, especially at night. If you find yourself in such a situation, call 911 and grab anything bright that you can, like your phone or a flashlight, to alert oncoming traffic of your presence.
This can save more than just your own life.
Common Errors to Avoid After an Accident
Avoid the following:
- discussing who is at fault (let the experts figure that out later)
- discussing the details or limits on your insurance policy (stick to policy number and company name)
- Sharing subjective opinions (like who is at fault) with police or other parties
These are some key errors to avoid.
Get Help from a Car Accident Attorney
You may find value in legal representation after a car crash if:
- Anyone was injured by the accident (injuries may turn out to be long-term)
- You think the property damage may exceed the dollar amount of your policy limit or the other driver’s policy limit
- Property other than a motor vehicle was damaged (real property, fences, etc.)
- You feel under-represented by your insurance company
If you’re asking what should I do after a car accident, one important thing may be to call an attorney. If you need more detailed information about what to do after a car crash or would like legal representation, contact The Kryder Law Group, LLC: (312) 223-1700 The initial consultation is free.