The first hours after an auto accident can seem like a blur to anyone who’s been in one, in the wake of all the chaos and confusion, it’s easy to lose track of what happens next. It can also be difficult to know how you’re supposed to proceed in the aftermath of your collision. By taking the right steps immediately after an auto accident, you can greatly improve your chances of recovering quickly from any injuries you may have sustained, both in terms of your physical health and your finances.
1. Get Medical Assistance
Contact a doctor or a medical professional as soon as possible after your car accident. Your injuries may be more severe than you think, and without proper medical care, you could face complications down the road. If you can’t reach a doctor, call 911 immediately. In some states, you must report an auto accident to local law enforcement within 24 hours. If that’s true in your state, do so before seeking medical attention. Ignoring your injury risks will lead to more serious problems down the line.
2. Report the Incident
Even if your accident was minor, you still need to report it. Every state has different laws on auto accidents, but generally speaking, you’ll want to file a police report—or at least talk with an officer on-scene—so there’s a record of what happened. Your insurer may require a police report number before they agree to pay for any damages. It’s also important to notify your state department of motor vehicles (DMV) and/or Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). Reporting an accident can be done online or by phone. Be sure to have all necessary paperwork handy, including proof of insurance and registration information. While you can do some damage control right after your crash e.g., exchange contact info and talk with witnesses. Don’t try to fix your car until you have assistance from a professional.
3. Get Checked at the Hospital
The first step in recovery after an auto accident is to report your injuries and obtain medical treatment. If you’ve been in a car accident, you must visit a doctor for a checkup, depending on what injuries you have. Sometimes those tiny injuries we never felt during an accident can have major long-term consequences. You should also seek treatment from a professional if you think you may have suffered nerve damage, spinal cord injury, or any other serious condition as a result of an auto accident.
4. Document Your Injuries
Get X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or any other tests you think might be necessary. Be sure to get copies of all these records. They’ll be essential if you end up filing a personal injury lawsuit in court. When dealing with insurance companies, they will try to discourage you from requesting evaluations by top doctors that don’t work for them. Insist on getting them anyway. The fact that many doctors work for one insurance company does not mean that you should never see one who works for another.
5. Reach Out to Family or Friends for Support
We all have family and friends who love us; reach out and ask them for support. Whether you need someone to look after your kids, a ride to therapy, or a shoulder to cry on, you’ll find that knowing some people care about you in your corner gives you strength when things seem bleak. Reaching out doesn’t mean relying on others to fix your problems; talk through what happened, so they can better understand how they can help you move forward.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
If you are physically able, it’s important to call your insurance company after an accident. It will allow you to make sure your claim is properly filed and that your needs are met. It can also prevent further misunderstandings with law enforcement, emergency responders, and other parties at a time when your focus should be on safety and recovering from injuries. If you have any trouble reaching someone at your insurance company—or if dealing with them makes you uncomfortable—you have every right to call another insurer for assistance.
7. Seek Legal Advice from a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, there’s a chance you could be entitled to monetary compensation for property damage, medical bills, and pain and suffering. The first step is speaking with a personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights. Their guidance may also ensure that you don’t accept low-ball settlement offers from insurance companies.
To conclude, being involved in an auto accident can be terrifying and stressful. Fortunately, you don’t have to face your injury or damage on your own. While it might seem like a long process at first, our step-by-step guide will help ease you through each step of recovery so that you can get back on track in no time.