The moments following a car crash can be chaotic. Even if you do not think you are injured, you are likely shaken up and may not be thinking straight. Still, it is important to stay calm and take the following three steps if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Moving the car and children
First, pull over to a safe spot if you can. This may be the side of the road, a parking lot or another place out of the way of moving traffic. Preferably you will want this location to be well lit and in view of others. Put on your emergency flashers so other motorists can see you.
If you cannot move your vehicle due to damage sustained in the crash, you and any passengers in the vehicle should exit the vehicle if you can and stay a safe distance away. However, do not leave the crash scene.
Do not leave children in a hot car following a crash. If your child is in a car seat, let first responders take them out of the car seat. Unbeknownst to you, your child may be injured, so it is best to let professionals move them from the car.
Call for help
Once your safety is secured, you will want to call 911 to alert police and emergency medical technicians. Even if you think your injuries are minor, you should still be checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries do not manifest themselves immediately following a crash.
The police will be able to write an official report documenting what you and the other driver said happened in the crash. This report can be useful if you file an insurance claim for damages or pursue a lawsuit following the crash.
If the police cannot come to the scene of the crash, you can go to the nearest police station and file a report on your own. You should do so as soon as you can as most states have strict deadlines for when accident reports can be filed.
Exchange information with the other driver
As long as it is safe to do so, you will want to exchange information with the other driver in the crash. Stay calm when doing so. Do not apologize or admit fault; this can be used against you. Do not make or accept damage payments on your own at the scene of the crash.
You will want to get the other driver’s insurance information, name and contact information. You may also want to take pictures of your damaged vehicle and injuries if you can. Write down all your recollections of the crash as soon as you can.
These three steps can put you in an advantageous position, for your health and your pocketbook, following a car crash. Car crashes are stressful, and it can be easy to forget what to do in the chaos of the moment. Some people find keeping a checklist in their glove box of what to do following a car crash handy in the case of a collision.