Beyond the Collision: Essential Steps To Take After An Accident

Yes, Accidents Happen

And sometimes–hopefully–they turn out just to be run-of-the-mill fender benders. Other times, however, they can turn your whole life upside down.

With serious accidents, especially, the scene can quickly become chaotic between insurance and legal representation. No matter what type of accident you’re in, however, it’s always best to keep a cool head and not let the situation overwhelm you. By adhering to a few basic guidelines, you can help ensure the aftermath of whatever type accident you’ve been in has the best possible outcome for everyone.

Actions to Take in an Accident’s Immediate Aftermath

Check for Injuries

If you’ve been in an accident, the most important concern is whether or not you, your passengers or anyone in the other vehicle or vehicles involved have been injured. If you or anyone in your vehicle have been injured, call or have someone call 911 immediately. If you are able, check on the condition of the driver and passengers in the other vehicle(s) involved.

You’ll need a police report, so whether or not there are injuries, getting a police officer on the scene is imperative. Call 911 right away and inform the operator about the accident and where you are. If they are unable to send a cruiser, go to the nearest police station when you are able and file a report on your own.

Get Your Vehicle Out of Harm’s Way

If your vehicle is drivable and you are able, try to move it to the side of the road. Turn on your emergency flashers as a warning or, if you have them, set up road flares. If you can’t move your vehicle, get out if you can and get yourself and your passengers away from traffic and out of harm’s way. Then wait for the police to arrive.

Next Steps

Cooperate with Law Enforcement

It’s not unusual for accidents to bring on strong emotions, but understand that a responding officer needs to gather information and file a report. When you get your opportunity to explain what happened, do your best to remain calm and provide the facts as you saw them that led to the accident. Provide your license and insurance information and any other information requested. Be sure to get the officer’s name and badge number and find out when and where you can obtain a copy of the police report. Your insurance company will want a copy of it. You may also need to contact legal representation for any injuries or claims made.

Gather Your Own Evidence

While waiting for an officer to respond, be proactive by taking pictures of the damages to your vehicle and any others involved. Taking them from several different angles can be beneficial to your insurance claims representative by giving them a clearer picture of what actually occurred and who might be at fault.

If there are any witnesses on the scene, now is the time to talk to them about what they saw. Ask them for their contact information.

In Lieu of a Responding Officer

If an officer cannot come to the scene, be sure to exchange phone numbers, and license and insurance information with the other party involved. Be sure also to make note of their car make and model and license plate number. If anyone has been injured, make sure to obtain legal representation.

Moving Forward

Of course, injuries must be tended to first, but as soon as you are able, you should get the claims process started. If your insurer provides a mobile app, you may even be able to do that while on the scene. It’s an especially helpful tool if your vehicle needs to be towed.

Your claims representative will want to have a copy of the police report. They’ll also need to send out an adjuster to determine the damages. But by getting the process started quickly, you can minimize downtime and start moving forward more quickly.

If serious injuries are involved, now is also the time to consider legal representation. Be sure to keep accurate records of any medical costs incurred, as well as losses from income and vehicular repair costs as a result of the accident. Monitor the progress of your recovery and consider how the accident may or may not impact you for the long term.