If you have ever been in a car wreck, then you know what an upsetting experience it is. In the shock and confusion following a crash, you might not know what to do. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan ahead and walk yourself through the important steps.
The first thing you should do after a car wreck is to scan yourself for injuries. If you think there’s a possibility that you hurt your head or spine, then it’s important to stay seated unless staying in the car presents a bigger threat.
It’s common to get whiplash during a wreck, but if you experience numbness or unexplained pain in your limbs, it might be a sign of a more serious spinal injury. A concussion might not be obvious, either, so if you hit your head during the crash, err on the side of caution.
Check with any passengers in your vehicle, too. If you are able to do so, check on the other drivers and passengers involved in the crash.
Call 911, Secure the Scene
Dial emergency services as soon as possible after the crash. Look around for street signs and landmarks if you aren’t certain of your location. If anyone seems to be in need of an ambulance, tell the operator. Otherwise, ask for an officer to be dispatched.
While you wait for help to arrive, there’s more to be done. At minimum, you should turn on your hazard lights. If your car is still driveable, move it to the side of the road. If not, leave it in place. It’s smart to keep those triangular, reflective safety signs in your trunk for situations like this. At night, you could also put down a road flare.
As long as you are able to leave the vehicle safely, move to the shoulder, median, or sidewalk to wait for help.
Assuming that you are able to get out of the car, walk around your vehicle and take photographs of any damage. These pictures could be very helpful later when dealing with your insurance company. You should also write down exactly what happened during the crash while it is still fresh in your mind.
Exchange Information–But Don’t Say This
You will need to exchange information with the other driver(s). Here’s what you need to provide and collect:
- Full name of driver
- Phone number
- Insurance company, policy number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Description of other vehicle(s)
- Location where the accident happened
While you are exchanging this information, do not admit fault in any way. Even if you believe the accident might have been your fault, it’s important not to say so. That includes saying “I’m sorry” during the discussion. You might not mean it as an admission of guilt, but it could be taken that way once insurance companies and lawyers get involved.
While you are collecting information, talk to any witnesses nearby. Jot down their names and contact information in case you need to reach them again later. Once the officers arrive on the scene, get their names and badge numbers as well.
Call Your Insurance Company
It’s a good idea to go ahead and call your insurance company, too. They can get the ball rolling on your claim and ensure that you’ve gathered the right information and documented everything correctly.