1. SAFETY FIRST
Before you do anything else, you need to make sure you and your passengers are okay first. Then, if possible, proceed to check on others that were involved in the wreck.
Being prepared for such moments is wise. Use your glove box to store a first aid kit, flash light, an index card listing any important health information such as allergies or medical conditions, a charger for your cell phone, and even a water bottle such instances; these items can be of great use after a wreck (or for when you break down). You should also keep a few items in the trunk or your backseat such as road-flares or some type of warning light, a small fire extinguisher, a blanket, and a few basic tools (pliers, a wrench, multi-tip screwdriver). No one likes taking up room in their car with things they may never use, but these items might prove to be invaluable after an accident.
Program the number of roadside assistance into your phone as well as your emergency contacts. This will allow you to connect more quickly when your mind is racing. Likewise, if you are unable to communicate after the accident, the first responders will be able to contact those who need to know what has happened.
Again, make sure you and your passengers are okay and safe after a wreck, and then if possible and safe (traffic-wise), check on anyone else involved.
Finally, if able and possible, drivers should move their cars to a safer location (wide shoulder or parking lot) as they wait for authorities and sort out details. This is not only safer for those involved in the wreck, but also for those still traveling. If you are unable to move and are in the middle of the road, remain buckled in your vehicle until help arrives.
2. NOTIFY AUTHORITIES
Always notify the police of an accident.
NEVER leave the scene of an accident. In fact, to do so in the state of Texas can get you charged with a misdemeanor; if someone is injured, you could be charged with a felony.
It could also cover you down the road should any issues arise. They will provide you with an official police report of the accident; imagine if after a few days went by and the other party involved claimed there was no accident. It would be your word against theirs and would make life much more complicated.
Likewise, the other person’s ‘word-for-it’ can get you in trouble on the insurance-end as well. One out of seven people don’t have legitimate auto insurance; many carry around fake or expired cards. Calling the authorities to detail everything is just a safe decision. Always get the name of the officer(s) who arrive at the scene in case you need to contact them later.
3. EXCHANGE INFORAMTION
If you managed to get to a safer location, you should begin collecting information from everyone involved including anyone who witnessed the accident. Record their name and contact information in case you need to contact them again for any reason. Also collect the other drivers’ license number, insurance information, the car’s make, model, plate number, and VIN number of the other cars involved. If possible, it is even better to take pictures of these items on your phone. Your mind might be a bit panicked after the accident and you run the risk of writing down the information incorrectly. A picture ensures that you have an accurate copy. Take pictures of the damage to all the vehicles involved as well.
If you have time or after you get home, write down a few notes of exactly what happened while the accident is fresh in your mind. Again, you can quickly use your smartphone for this if you have a notepad or voice recorder app. Detail the location of the accident, weather, road conditions, the direction you were traveling, speed, and so forth.
4. STAY CALM AND NO FINGER POINTING
Remember being told, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”? This is one of those times where it applies. Stress runs high after an accident and emotions are frayed. You cannot control how the other person responds to the situation, but you can manage what comes out of your mouth.
First, never take the blame for the accident nor should you place blame on the other party. Allow the police, insurance agent, and/or your attorney handle the fault factor. However, should the other party involved state that it was their fault, simply make a mental note and write down exactly what the person said as soon as you can.
Keep calm as much as possible, even if the other party isn’t responding the same. Don’t take the bait when they try to get into it with you. If the other person is going to talk to you calmly, simply continue writing down what information you can (this is another reason it helps to have the authorities on site) as you wait for the authorities.
5. TIE UP LOOSE ENDS
Once you leave the scene of the accident and begin to process all that has occurred, remember to take time to tie up loose ends over the next few days.
Within 24 hours of the accident, file a claim with your insurance agent and get checked out with your primary care physician. You may not feel hurt, but sometimes injuries can day take days to surface. Moreover, underlying effects from injuries may not appear until weeks later. Ignoring a pain could potentially turn into something more critical if not handled right away. Much like calling the police, this will also give you official documentation that might prove useful later. Taking care of your health, again, is the most important matter after an accident.
Talk to an Attorney
Car accidents are a frightening event, and the aftermath is stressful. The attorneys and staff at Godsey Martin are here to help you work through the hassle. If you’ve been involved in an accident and are having trouble with your insurance company or the other party involved, then please call us today for your free consultation. We can help protect your right to receive compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and property loss. Call the Texas injury lawyers at Godsey-Martin, P.C. by calling 1-877-IGOTHIT, or visit http://www.ijustgothit.com to schedule a free case evaluation.