Car accidents happen to the best of us, even if you’re a very careful and safe driver. And when a crash does occur, navigating the situation can feel scary or overwhelming. It helps to know the exact steps you need to take to protect yourself after a collision. Keep reading to learn more.
10 Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Managing the aftermath of a car accident isn’t at all ideal or easy, but you can make the process a lot smoother and less stressful by following these steps.
- Perform a self-check. Being in a car accident isn’t a pleasant experience and can be downright scary — you may feel shocked, disoriented or overwhelmed in the moments directly following the collision. Before moving, take a minute to breathe and evaluate yourself for pain or injuries. If you’re in significant pain, try not to move until help arrives.
- Get to a safe place. If you’re not too hurt to move, get yourself to a safe place away from the road. If your car is blocking traffic, move it to the side of the road if it’s still driveable. If you can’t move your vehicle, turn it off and switch on the hazard lights to alert oncoming drivers.
- Call the police. Call the police to report the car crash, even if the accident was minor. If there are damages or medical injuries, having an official crash report helps establish fault and validate personal injury claims during the claims process. If someone on the scene needs an ambulance or medical attention, call 911 right away.
- Collect information. You need to collect some important information before you leave the scene of the accident. Make sure you gather: the other driver’s name, contact information, insurance company, and policy number; the other driver’s vehicle description (make, model, color, and license plate number); and eyewitness names and statements. While you’re waiting for the police, take a few minutes to write down or sketch out everything you remember about how the accident occurred. Don’t forget to note unusual weather or road conditions. When the police arrive, make sure to get the officer’s name and contact information, and a copy of the police report (or find out where you can obtain a copy later).
- Take photos. Photo and video evidence can be very helpful during the claims process. Take photos of the scene, vehicle damage and visible injuries.
- Limit discussion with the other driver. You’ll probably have some time alone with the other driver while waiting for the police. While it’s perfectly OK to collect information and make small talk, don’t discuss the accident in any detail. Only talk about what happened and who’s at fault with the police and your insurance company. If the other driver tries to pressure you into settling the damages without involving your insurance company, politely decline. It’s much safer for you and your financial well-being to handle the claim through your insurance provider.
- File an insurance claim. Ohio is an at-fault state, meaning that the at-fault driver’s insurance is responsible for covering losses, damages and medical expenses. If you’re the not-at-fault driver, you have two ways to file an insurance claim and recover compensation: one, you can file a claim with your own insurance company if the losses can be covered under your policy. Your provider will then pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Two, you can file a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s provider. Please note that even if you decide to pursue a third-party claim, you should notify your own insurance company that you were in an accident. If you’re the not-at-fault driver, you can recover compensation for vehicle damages, injuries, emotional distress and lost wages due to missed work.
- Seek medical care. Car collisions place a lot of impact, stress and pressure on the human body and injuries are common. Concussions, whiplash, fractures, spine damage, soft tissue injuries, and back and neck pain are common injuries that crop up after an accident. However, many people expect to feel sore and achy after a crash and believe the pain will disappear on its own. But far too often, failing to seek medical treatment early causes minor injuries to worsen and turn into chronic pain. After a crash, getting a full check-up and evaluation can give you peace of mind — or it can help your doctor find an injury before symptoms even appear.
- Monitor yourself for injuries. Even if you feel fine at the scene of the accident and the next day, some car crash injuries don’t appear until weeks or months after the crash. In the days following an accident, monitor yourself carefully for symptoms like back pain, neck pain and stiffness, headaches, numbness or tingling, and changes in mood or personality. If you feel anything abnormal, see a doctor as soon as possible. Unfortunately, if you wait too long to seek medical treatment after a crash, your insurance may try to say that the injury was caused by something else and deny your injury claim.
- Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. If you are injured in a car crash, consider hiring a personal injury attorney to fight for adequate compensation on your behalf. An attorney — along with his or her team of experts — will have more experience assessing the true value of your injuries and damages, which can help you receive better compensation than the insurance provider originally offers.
Where Can I Get Medical Treatment After a Car Crash?
If you sustain injuries from a car crash, trust BEST Surgery and Therapies to help you get back on your feet. BEST provides a single-solution care model that includes all the treatments and services you’ll need at our state-of-the-art facility in Cincinnati, OH. We deliver the highest-quality orthopedic and spine care using pain management techniques, conservative therapies, one-on-one physical therapy and minimally invasive orthopedic and spine surgeries.
We have a quick-reply scheduling service that allows rapid patient access to our modern healthcare facility, where we provide same-day surgical care, urgent injury evaluation, and diagnostic and preventative measures. Please call us at 513-953-4549 to speak with a dedicated Patient Experience Coordinator and schedule your first appointment.