Even minor car accidents can be unsettling. And you’ll probably be pumped up with adrenaline and emotion for a while afterward. So while you may think common sense will guide you after a car accident, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself ahead of time by keeping these tips in mind. Below, the injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC discuss 7 steps to take after a car accident:
Step 1: Stop and Pull Over
Hit-and-run can be a felony if someone is injured or killed in the accident, so don’t immediately leave the scene. Stop and pull over to the side of the road if you can. Be sure to turn on your hazard lights if you can. These actions increase the safety of the accident scene while making it easier for other motorists to pass.
Step 2: Check to See If Anyone is Hurt
Don’t get out of the car yet. Check your passengers for injuries and have them do the same for you. If you’re alone, check yourself carefully. In the aftermath of an accident, an adrenaline surge may temporarily mask the pain of some injuries. If you see and feel nothing major, wait until it’s safe to get out of your car before doing so.
Check with the occupants of the other car(s) involved. If the accident caused any injuries, call 911. Render first aid if necessary, but try not to move anyone unless you know they’re in danger.
Until everyone is safe and the authorities have arrived, don’t worry about trying to assign fault or blame.
Step 3: Call the Police If Necessary
Even if it’s not an emergency, you may need to call the police to inform them about the accident. This won’t be necessary if you’re on a busy or regularly patrolled road. If you’re on a low-traffic road or rural highway, call them as soon as possible. Don’t call 911 unless it really is an emergency. You can get the local police station’s phone number from Information.
Step 4: Swap Contact and Insurance Info
While you’re waiting, exchange insurance and contact information with all other drivers. This is one of the most important steps to take after a car accident, as it will eventually come in handy in your accident claim. Get all names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and plate numbers. If someone decides to leave the scene, try to get their license number. It may also help your insurance claim later if you can get contact information from any passengers in the other car(s).
Step 5: Take Notes and Photos
Document the accident. Don’t worry about offending anyone.
Take notes on paper or on your phone’s notes app. Include where the accident occurred, the drivers involved, your car’s damage, and any injuries. Try to get the names of all the passengers and witnesses. Include the road conditions and any road hazards. Get the names and badge numbers of the police officers who respond, too. Take photos of everything above, especially your injuries and vehicle damage.
Step 6: Ask for a Police Report
Most insurers consider the officers who handle a scene to be reliable, solid sources of information. Ask them for a police report at the scene. They should be able to tell you when it will be ready and how you can get a copy. This can help you when you make your claim.
Step 7: Call Your Insurance Agent
Contact your insurance agent ASAP. If they’re unavailable, leave a message. When they call you back, they’ll fill you in on what to do next.
Learn More About Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Because auto damages can range into the thousands of dollars — and injury claims can go even higher — some insurance companies will do all they can to minimize or avoid paying a claim. If you get a low settlement offer, they deny your claim, or you feel you’ve been unfairly found at fault, we may be able to help. Talking to an experienced New Hampshire car accident lawyer may be one of the most important steps to take after a car accident. Contact the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC today at (603) 624-7200.