Have you been in a car accident? First, take a deep breath. Next, follow these six steps to ensure your physical and legal well-being.
Step One: Pause and Assess
Stop your vehicle as soon as possible. If possible, pull over at a safe, well-lit, and populated location. Put your vehicle into park, turn off the engine, and turn on the hazard lights. Then, take stock of your body. Are you injured? If so, try to move as little as possible.
Step Two: Get Help
Next, call 911. Even if the accident is minor, contact the police. It is important to establish a paperwork trail for future insurance claims. If anyone is injured, tell the phone operator that you need an ambulance.
Additionally, contact an auto accident attorney in Columbia MD. Even if all parties are amicable, it is best to have professional legal advice in situations involving property damage or injury.
Step Three: Gather Information
Collect the names and contact information of everyone involved in the accident, including passengers and pedestrians. Record the driver’s license numbers and insurance policy information of the other drivers. Write down the names and badge numbers of the responding police officers.
To avoid legal complications, never admit fault at the scene. Never say that you are uninjured, either. Many car accident injuries only become apparent in the days after an accident. Claiming that you are “fine” could prevent you from successfully filing insurance claims later.
Note that if there is no one else present besides those involved in the accident, you should stay in your locked car and wait for the police to arrive. If anyone seems aggressive or confrontational, do not engage with them.
Step Four: Document the Scene
Take photos of all the vehicles impacted by the accident. Then, record the license plate numbers, models, and manufacture dates of the vehicles. Lastly, jot down the time and the address or street name at which the accident took place.
Step Five: Pause and Reflect
Take a moment to breathe and remember what happened. Make a written note or audio recording of the events leading up to, during, and after the accident. Add comments about the weather conditions or any other factors that may have contributed to the accident.
Step Six: File a Claim
You can file an insurance claim at the scene of an accident. If possible, do so. If you feel disoriented, still file the claim, and fill in the details later.
Auto accidents can be scary, but there are processes in place to make their aftermaths go smoothly. Make sure to protect your physical, legal, and financial well-being if you are involved in an accident.