What should you do in the moments after a car accident?
Car accidents are often traumatic and terrifying experiences. In addition to property damage and potential injuries, the shock of adrenaline that inevitably floods your system and puts you in “fight or flight” mode can make it hard to remember what you should do in this situation.
Fortunately, the attorneys at Cohn & Swartzon have successfully pursued enough car accident claims to provide a simple and definitive list of steps to take immediately after a car accident, and we’ll examine all three of them below.
1. Prioritize Safety
In the moments after a car accident, the most important step is to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers.
If you are on the freeway or a busy street and your car is driveable, activate your hazard lights and move your vehicle to the shoulder or side of the road as soon as safely possible. If the other party’s vehicle is also operational, signal them to do the same.
If your vehicle is inoperable and stuck in ongoing traffic, stay in the vehicle with your seatbelt fastened until emergency services arrive (more on that below). And in any case, do not voluntarily leave the scene. Unless emergency medical transport is required, ensure you stay at the accident location until the following steps are carried out.
2. Contact Law Enforcement
As we alluded to above, the next step after securing your safety is to call 911 and ask for law enforcement and emergency services to come to the scene – even if no one was seriously injured.
This is important for a few reasons.
- You will want an incident report from law enforcement as a part of the documentation for your accident claim.
- The officer’s report will present a third-party account of the scene that your insurance adjuster and legal representatives will consider in determining who is at fault – though no traffic collision report is fullproof.
- You may need the officer’s contact information to follow up and refer back to as your claim proceeds.
3. Gather & Exchange Information
When you are in a safe location and law enforcement has arrived or is on the way, the third essential step is to collect and exchange information immediately after a car accident unless of course, you are too injured to do so.
Most drivers already know that they need to get the other party’s driver’s license, insurance, and contact information, but it’s also vital to collect time-stamped photographs and videos of the scene, damage to the vehicles, injuries, and other relevant images. Also, do not forget to get the names and contact information of any potential witnesses who may not be listed in a traffic collision report. If the crash occurs at an intersection, perhaps try (or have someone on your behalf) to gather video surveillance footage from local businesses or residences. All of this data can help your attorneys develop and prove a credible case and maximize the compensation you receive as part of your claim and possibly, an eventual settlement.
4. (BONUS TIP!) Consult Cohn & Swartzon
It’s crucial for you to speak with an experienced team of personal injury attorneys like Cohn & Swartzon as soon as possible after a car accident. Saying the wrong thing to an insurance company can have negative consequences later on.
“Why is it important to connect with counsel right after an accident? Essentially it’s because the sooner an attorney can start developing your case, the more likely it is to succeed. While nothing is ever guaranteed in a car accident, if your lawyer gets in on the ‘ground floor’ of your claim he or she will be able to spend more time investigating and verifying the facts of your case to maximize compensation.”
– Jason D. Cohn, Founding Principal, Cohn & Swartzon
Cohn & Swartzon’s attorneys have spent decades protecting victims’ rights and ensuring that insurance companies and at-fault parties are held accountable after accidents. Since 2008, our mission has been to help victims return to a normal life after the trials and trauma of a car accident.