5 Steps to Take Immediately After a Car Accident
Even if you have an impeccable driving record, there is a chance that you’ll be involved in a car accident in your lifetime. According to Driver Knowledge, there are an average of six million car accidents per year in the United States. Seventy-two percent of incidents result in property damage, and about 1 in 4 accidents will cause a non-fatal injury. Tragically, more than 90 people on average die in car accidents every day, most commonly caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, and reckless driving.
When you see an accident on the side of the road, whether it’s a minor fender bender or a major incident requiring emergency services, you may just thank the powers that be that it hasn’t happened to you and get on with your day. However, though safe driving practices give you the best chance of avoiding an accident, you can never fully eliminate the risk.
If you are involved in a car accident, even if it’s minor, you’ll likely be under stress and not thinking clearly. How are you supposed to deal with keeping yourself and others safe, the damage to your car, your insurance company and the police? Don’t make the aftermath of an accident worse by not knowing what to do next. Learn these five steps to take immediately after a car accident and be prepared.
- Stop and Get to Safety
Even if you’re not sure what has happened, safely stop the car, pull over to the side of the road or a sidewalk and put on your hazard lights. If your car is not driveable, leave the car and get yourself to safety. If you have safety flares or cones in your car, you can use these to warn other drivers and possibly prevent another accident. Try to remain calm. It’s natural to be shaken up after an accident. Take a few minutes to collect yourself and take some deep breaths. Call a loved one if you need some support.
- Check for Injuries
If you’re injured, call 911 or ask a bystander to do so. If you are seriously injured, try not to move – that could make your injury worse. Stay calm and wait for emergency services to arrive. Check your passengers for injuries as well and call for help if needed. If you are able, offer help to other people involved in the accident.
If it’s a minor accident and no one is injured, make a note of it, just in case the other party tries to claim an injury later.
- Call the Police
In Louisiana, as stated in Revised Statutes section 32-398, you must report an accident to the police that results in an injury or death, or results in property damage above $500. Call and request police at the scene, so the accident can be reported accurately and in accordance with the law.
The statute also states that drivers involved in accidents that cause a death or damage of $1000 or more must send in a written report to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours after the crash. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $100, 60 days of jail time, or sometimes both.
You should also call the police if the driver leaves the scene of the accident before you can exchange information, if you think the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if you suspect that the other driver caused the accident on purpose.
- Exchange Details with the Other Driver
Provide the other driver with your name and contact details, and the name of your insurer. Determine if the driver is the owner of the vehicle – if not, find out who the owner is and get that information too. Although your emotions may be running high, this is not the time to lose your temper or argue about who is at fault. To protect yourself from liability, do not admit fault until it becomes completely clear what caused the accident. Additionally, speak to any witnesses and get their contact details as well.
- Record Information
A stressful incident like a car accident can affect your memory, so it’s important to record all the details of the accident at the scene. Make note of the following:
- The date and time of the accident, and the exact location
- The make, model, color, and license plate numbers of the vehicles involved in the accident.
- The driving conditions, including the weather, lighting, and road quality (such as road markings, a wet or muddy road service, or any construction activity).
- A description of vehicle damage
Use your phone to take pictures of the scene, the positions of the cars involved, and damage to the cars.
Know Your Rights Under the Law
By following these tips, you’ll be sure to take care of your responsibilities when involved in an accident – doing what you can to help the injured and direct traffic, providing your contact and insurance details with the other driver, reporting the accident to police, and making a detailed account. However, if the accident was caused by someone else, you should also find out your rights, and if you are eligible for compensation.
A car accident can seriously disrupt your life. You probably rely on your vehicle to travel to work, see family and friends, and keep your home stocked with essential items. Just a few days waiting for a car repair can be a major interruption in your routine. Accidents are also likely to cause injury, leading to medical expenses, time away from work, the inability to do activities you enjoy, and burdening your loved ones. All these consequences are time-consuming and costly. Even if the driver at fault has insurance, the insurer may not offer you the full amount you are eligible for. Car accidents can also lead to long-term pain and emotional trauma that have an impact on your quality of life.
Our team is standing by ready to help you navigate the aftermath of your accident. Contact us today.