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What to Do After a Car Accident: A Step-by-Step Guide


Car Accidents: What to do after

As an American car owner, you never leave your home or workplace for your destination anticipating an accident. But, sometimes these unfortunate incidents occur. The Annual United States Road Crash Statistics show that road crashes are the leading cause of death in the USA for people less than 55 years old. Hence, while you should drive carefully and take the necessary precautions to prevent auto accidents, you should also know how to effectively manage an accident should it occur. 

Certain crucial steps should be taken by the car owner after an automobile accident. This piece gives a detailed guide.

What to Do After an Accident

The 10 things you should do after an accident are:

1. Stop

The first step after an accident, whether major or minor, is to stop and assess the situation. Never drive away hurriedly from an accident scene.

2. Check yourself for injuries.

This is likely the default go-to after an accident. Auto collisions cause an impact on all involved. Your vehicle is an invaluable possession of yours. However, it comes with a price tag attached to it. Your life and health are far more important. Before you dash off worrying about the damage caused to your car, check yourself for injuries. Bruises, wounds, cuts, whatever it is, pay particular attention to every part of your body. See where it hurts and where it does not?

If you’re seriously injured, try not to move to avoid worsening the injury or causing yourself more pain. Call 911 for help or ask someone else to do so.

3. Assess the well-being of your passengers or other occupants of the vehicle.

After examining your health state and seeing that you’re not severely injured, the next step is to find out who is hurt. Check the other passengers in your vehicle. See that everyone is okay and that no one is in a critical state. If anyone is severely injured, seek immediate medical attention.

4. Get yourself, your vehicle, and your passengers out of danger.

Next to life, safety is paramount. If you’re not severely hurt, get yourself and your passengers out of harm’s way. You could move to the side of the road or a walkway. The key here is to avoid further injuries, accidents, or complications. 

If your vehicle is safe to drive, you’re healthy enough to drive, and your car is currently impeding traffic flow, carefully drive to the side of the road where your automobile is safe and does not impede traffic.

When driving, be particularly careful. This is because you’re prone to making illogical decisions when hurt. The auto accident may have also affected your vehicle’s function one way or the other. So, there is a need to be extra careful if you’re driving your car after an accident.

5. Call 911 or contact the police.

If you’ve not already contacted 911 for medical help, now is the time to do so. Whether the auto accident is considered a bender-fencer or a major collision, the need to inform a police officer cannot be overemphasized. If a police officer comes to your rescue, ensure you note the officer’s name, contact information, as well as badge number. It is also great practice to request a copy of the documented accident report from the police officer. This is because a copy of the police report may be requested by your insurer when you file an insurance claim.

6. Wait for help and warn others while at it.

Now that you’ve asked for help, the next thing to do is to patiently wait for the help to arrive. But remember, it is important to warn other road users to avoid another auto accident. To do this, turn off your car engine, turn on your hazard lights, and use the road flares to warn others. Other motorists can slow down upon seeing these signs.

7. Exchange vital information.

It takes two to tango. Though not always the case, it often takes two motorists to cause an auto collision. After ensuring the safety of yourself and your passengers, your next to-do is to exchange contact and insurance information with the other motorist.

Vital details to exchange include:

  • Full Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • insurance company
  • Policy number
  • Plate number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle specifications (model, color, type)
  • Accident location

It might help to already have this information template with you in your car so you never forget a vital detail.

8. Document the scene.

Also, ensure that you note the date and time of the accident, as well as the location (city, street name). The positions of the vehicles involved before and after the accident relative to the streets are also important. This piece of information usually comes in handy when assessments are being made and the accident is reviewed later.

Another vital step to take after an accident is to record the accident details. Document the scene. What vehicle parts are affected? What is the extent of the impact? An easy and accurate way to do this is to use your mobile device. You could simply use your mobile phone to record a video that shows the scene, take pictures and get other relevant information regarding the accident.

Taking down the accounts of witnesses to the accident is also a plus.

9. Request a tow truck if necessary.

Sometimes your car may be in a state that permits it to be driven. But at other times, the impact of the accident may be so severe that your vehicle cannot be driven away from the scene. In this case, you need to call a tow truck to help with the movement of your vehicle.

Be careful when getting a tow truck. Never assume that a tow truck that coincidentally drives by in time is credible. When you get a tow truck or employ the services of a tow company, ensure that you verify their credentials and see to it that they are reliable.

10. Contact your insurance company.

It’s usually a good idea to contact your insurer while you’re still at the scene of the accident. That way, you still have a vivid account of the situation and can adequately answer every question that your insurer may have.

What not to do after an accidents

Don’t:

1. Leave

Exiting an accident scene without doing the necessary things is a terrible idea. In the event of an accident, stay calm. Call for help and wait till help arrives. Exchange the vital information with the other driver and ensure that you take all the relevant steps.

2. Discuss first

After an auto accident, emotions may be flying around. Having a discussion regarding the accident and giving or taking blames is not a good idea. Rather, contact the appropriate authorities and follow the guidelines given above.

3. Record a statement without legal counsel.

There is a need to protect your rights after an accident. Before you agree to your insurer’s request for a recorded statement, contact your lawyer. Your lawyer can help you review your insurance policy and ensure that your statement will not ultimately result in you shooting yourself in the leg.

4. Delay

Time erodes evidence. After an auto accident, do all you need to ASAP! Do not wait or delay.

Steps to Recovery after an Accident

You might incur injuries from an auto accident. You’ll need to recover if you want to return to your daily activities with ease. Here are a few steps to aid recovery after an accident.

1. Seek medical care immediately after the incident.

Sometimes it is easy to see the injuries that result from an accident. Wounds, cuts, and bruises are visible, and one can easily tell that there’s a cut when a body part is bleeding.

But, sometimes, an individual is completely fine on the outside but injured internally. Symptoms from whiplash, concussions, and internal bleeding may take a while to appear. If left unattended, these conditions may worsen and lead to further complications. So, after an accident, whether or not you feel injured, you should still seek medical attention. A doctor can diagnose and run imaging scans to ensure that nothing is wrong inside.

2. See a specialist if needed.

Depending on the degree of injury sustained, you may have to see a specialist. An orthopedist may be needed in the case of a bone or joint condition. And, you’d need to see an optician if the accident affected your eye health.

3. Take some time off to rest.

Rest. There is no subtle way to put this. Just rest. You may be tempted to return to your normal routine immediately after an accident, especially if there are no visible injuries. However, it is not advisable that you immediately return to your normal routine fully. Your muscle tissue may be affected by the impact of the auto collision. You should limit physical activities, take time out to rest, and give your body space to heal well.

4. Get Adequate Sleep

The need for sleep cannot be overemphasized. Even in a healthy adult, adequate quality sleep is paramount to normal body function. It is even much more crucial to recover after an accident. Sleep helps your body destress, retreat and heal. After an accident, whether minor or major, adequate sleep must be supplied.

5. Stick to your prescriptions

Take your doctor’s advice and follow it to the letter. Take your medications as prescribed. Take time off from work to recover and heal. And, don’t be in a hurry to get off your medications.

The fastest route to healing and returning to your daily activities is to stick to your recovery plan. Your prescribed recovery plan may include:

  • Hot or cold compresses
  • Engaging in physical therapy
  • Perform physical exercises and stretches as recommended by your therapist.
  • Taking your drugs as prescribed

Whatever it is, stick to the plan and keep at it till your body is completely fine. Stay in touch with your doctor every step of the way.

6. Try massage and stretches

After an auto accident, gradual steps need to be taken to regain full mobility and flexibility in your body. Massages and stretches are great ways to help your return to its initial state. Physical activity will prevent your muscles and joints from weakening. Gentle stretching routines are a good place to start. Just ensure that you do not push it. Find out from your doctor what physical activities are suitable for you, given your current state. The key here is to stay physically active but not stress your body too much to avoid further tissue damage.

7. Consume a healthy diet

Another crucial element of quick recovery is healthy nutrition. During the recovery process, your body needs vitamins, minerals, and proteins to build cells and heal. Taking highly nutritious meals consistently goes a long way towards aiding your recovery process.

8. Stay Hydrated

Increase your water intake and ensure that your body is never dehydrated. After any form of tissue damage, your body requires an adequate fluid supply to repair and regenerate.

9. Have a healthy community around you.

The impact of an auto accident is not merely physical. A traumatic injury hurts your physical as well as your mental health. You may find that you’re more sad or moody than you used to be. That’s fine. Just ensure that you surround yourself with family and friends—people that love you and lift your spirit. This will help you heal better.

Many people also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety after an accident. This is completely normal. Just talk to a professional for help. Don’t stay in isolation.

The key here is to have a good support system and talk to a professional as soon as possible if need be.

10. Take it slow.

Just like every process takes a while, your body takes a minute to heal. Don’t be in so much of a hurry to return to your activities that you hurt yourself even more. Let your body heal naturally with no pressure.

It takes a while to recover after a car accident. The steps given above will help you keep yourself safe and recover quickly after an accident.

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