Being in a car accident can be a very dramatic and stressful event and one where it can be extremely difficult to figure out exactly what steps you should take immediately following the incident. A traumatic circumstance like this makes it very hard to figure out what to do once your adrenaline is pumping through your body, and the shock of what you have just been through creates a real difficulty in thinking and processing on what to do next.
This is exactly why it is so important to know the important steps you should take following a car accident before the situation arises, as well as understanding why hiring a lawyer to represent you in court if and when it comes to that can be the difference between being rightly compensated for the unfortunate event or if you end up having to pay for damages or medical bills out of your own pocket.
Check yourself as well as all of the other people involved in the accident for injuries
First and foremost make sure that you and everyone that is in your car has not been injured and is safe. Nothing is more important than your health and that is what you must be concerned with first above all else. Once you have figured out the status of everyone in your car you should check out and make sure the other people involved in the accident are okay as well.
Get to safety and call 911
After making sure that all of the drivers and passengers involved in the accident are not injured your next step should be to pull your car out of traffic to the side of the road if at all possible and then call the police. Even though it is not required by law in every state that you must call the police for every fender bender it is almost always in your best interest to have local law enforcement involved in order to get an accurate depiction of how the events went down on record. In addition, you can never be completely sure of exactly how the other driver will handle the situation no matter what they try to tell you at the scene so having another party's account of what happened will be to your benefit.
Call your insurance company at let them know about the accident
The best way to get properly compensated by the insurance companies for any damage that occurs to your vehicle is to call them as soon as possible and to let them know exactly what happened. It is very important to be truthful when relaying the information about the incident because if it differs from what is reported by the police in their report it may be a red flag that causes them to have a reason to not give you the full payment that you should be owed. Calling your insurance company promptly and giving accurate information is the proper step to take next.
Exchange information but stay calm and NEVER admit guilt
At this point it is time to get the information from the other driver or drivers involved. Getting the names and car insurance information from any other drivers is something you should always do, and if possible you should get their driver's license number and license plate number as well as the information of any of the other passengers.
What you should not do in any case is admit any sort of guilt of what just occurred. It can be easy to be caught up in the moment and apologize for what happened, it is actually a very common reaction. What is also common is that the simple fact of apologizing or admitting guilt at the scene can mean that you are admitting liability and in turn that could affect whether insurance will pay for your damages and/or injuries. It is okay to show concern to the people involved but it is clearly in your best interest to not admit to guilt of any kind.
You should also be aware that tensions may be running high which is why you should keep your cool and be as calm and cooperative with both the police and everyone involved as possible. There is nothing to be gained by letting any anger you may have get the best of you, and it is best to let a qualified attorney fight your battle in court for you instead.
Do not forget to get the names and contact info of any witnesses at the scene as the more people who can give first-hand accounts of how everything exactly went down the better.
Take as many photos at the scene at possible
If the accident is not a major one you should gather as much info and take as much photographic evidence that you can. Taking specific and well detailed notes about the events leading up to, during, and right after the crash is also a good practice to take. When it comes to taking pictures no one expects you to have one of the top ten cameras of the year, the camera on your phone is most likely fine. Also taking as many pictures from as many different angles will be to your benefit, as any case you end up trying to make in court it can only help you to have a photograph that confirms whatever claims you have been making.
Beware of any early settlement offers from insurance companies
It may be tempting to take the first offer that an insurance company sends your way, but it is important to remember that at the time you are offered money you might not yet be aware of the total amount of the costs of your accident. The offer could be high enough to pay for the damage to your car but if you end up having any prolonged medical affects that do not show up until after you have already settled you will have no way of receiving any compensation in that circumstance. So while you may just want to end an unfortunate and inconvenient issue in your life it is definitely the smart move to wait and make sure of how everything turns out before being willing to accept any settlement.