No one expects to get into an auto accident. Statistically speaking, however, we probably should expect it. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, most drivers will be involved in a vehicle collision at some point during their lifetime, and one out of every three people will be injured or killed in a crash.
Because each of us is at risk simply by getting behind the wheel, we should know what to do if and when a car accident occurs.
If your vehicle makes contact with anything, stop as soon as you can
The first rule to keep in mind is that you should stop and investigate if your vehicle strikes or is struck by anything larger than a pebble. This applies to property, but it especially applies to collisions with humans or animals. Even if the collision wasn’t your fault, you should stop to render aid and to ensure that any necessary information is exchanged or reported.
If you leave the scene of an accident without stopping, you may be committing a hit-and-run and could be criminally charged. Moreover, leaving the scene will prevent you from being able to hold another party liable for your injuries or damage to your vehicle.
Steps to take after a crash
As noted above, the first thing to do after a crash is to assess injuries (your own and those of others) and seek emergency care by calling 911, if needed. Once this has been done (or if it is not needed), proceed to the following steps.
- Move both vehicles to safety, if possible. That means pulling off the road or at least to the side of the road.
- Inform local law enforcement about the crash and have an officer come to the scene to create an accident report (this step will be done automatically if you already contacted emergency responders).
- While waiting for law enforcement, exchange insurance information and contact information with the other driver.
- Assess the accident site and take pictures of anything that could potentially be important later. This includes vehicle damage, the other driver’s license plate, skid marks on the road and damage to or destruction of any property in addition to the vehicles.
- Look for witnesses to the crash and ask for their contact information.
- Write down the details of the crash that you can remember, including what you think led up to it. You should also note things like time of day, traffic and weather conditions, etc. If you have your smart phone with you, you could record a voice memo instead, if this is easier.
- Contact your insurance company to report the crash. Do not give any more details than what is absolutely necessary. Avoid assessing blame at this point, because you don’t want to make any statements you may need to revise later.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney when you have had time to treat your injuries, assess damage and calm down from the incident.
Our firm is ready to help – contact us today
After you leave the crash site, you may find that the difficult work has only begun. Dealing with insurers and the at-fault driver can be tiresome and confusing, especially if you are also trying to recover from injuries.
At Woods Williford, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience helping car accident victims through all aspects of their case. We can take care of much of this work for you, leaving you free to focus on your health and your loved ones. To discuss your options with us and learn more about how we can help, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.