No one anticipates getting into a car accident, but when it happens, there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself. Sometimes the shock of an accident can make rational decision-making more challenging, so having a plan to follow is very beneficial.
1. Stay Calm: Take a deep breath and count to 10. Having a clear head and a sense of calmness will help everyone involved deal with the stress of a car accident, and being able to make good, logical decisions is crucial.
2. Check for Damage and Injuries: Check yourself for injuries first, then your other passengers, and finally the people in the other car. Remember that not all injuries may be immediately apparent, but any that are should be addressed. If everyone appears to be okay, inspect the vehicles for damage and take pictures, if possible.
3. Exchange Information: Make sure to exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information, including policy numbers, with the other driver. Do not admit fault to the accident, however, as this could be used against you in court if there is a lawsuit.
4. Call the Police: Even if the accident seems minor, make sure you file a police report. Having a police report ensures that the accident is properly documented and can help expedite insurance claims.
5. Get Emergency Medical Attention, If Needed: If any person involved has apparent injuries or pain at the time of the accident, seek immediate medical attention by either calling an ambulance or, if it is safe to do so, assisting the person by giving them transportation to a hospital. Do not underestimate the severity of an injury. Most people go into at least a partial state of shock after an accident.
6. Make an Insurance Claim: Call your insurance company or file a claim online when you get home. If possible, take notes or draw a picture of the scene of the accident. This will help the claims process be more efficient. Make sure that the insurance company gets the full version of your side of the story.
7. Get Checked Out By Your Chiropractor: This is an important step that many people forget. Any time a person experiences impact, such as the impact of a car accident, bones and joints can become misaligned. It is always a good idea to have a chiropractor perform a thorough check of your spine and joints after any kind of trauma. Pain does not always present immediately after a car accident, and getting a check-up can help identify issues before they become a problem.
8. Follow Up: Make sure to follow up with your insurance company, car repair company, any doctor appointments, and your chiropractor to make sure everything gets settled. Follow-up visits for you should be a top priority to ensure you return to full health from any injury.
While initially following these steps may seem painstaking and time-consuming, they can save you time, grief, and money in the long run. It is always best to take care of things in a thorough and timely manner so everyone involved can continue on with their lives.