Legal Guide

What We Need To Do After A Traffic Accident

Road traffic accidents are very common. Statistics show that around 8,730 people died in traffic accidents in the first three months of 2021, and it counts as the highest number in the last decade.

Moreover, after an accident, anything can happen. Without good documentation, we may end up taking the blame for something we didn't cause. To avoid any mishaps, there are several steps we need to follow after getting into a car accident.

1. Assess personal injury

First of all, I'd check my well-being. If I'm too injured to move, I will alert anyone else in the car or a bystander and call 911.

2. Get to safety

If I'm not that injured, I will pull my car to safety off the road or on the sidewalk so that other drivers don't crash into my vehicle. I prefer a well-lit, open place so that everything that happens is visible to the public, even to surveillance cameras in the area. It's especially helpful if I suspect that I'm a victim of a staged accident, a carjacking, or to gather evidence for an auto insurance claim. If I can’t pull it on my own, I would seek help from bystanders. Next is switching on the hazard lights or emergency flashers to warn other drivers that there's an emergency on the road, most especially if it happened at night.'

3. Alert first responders

Next, I'd call 911. In some states, it's a legal requirement to call the police, even if it's just a minor fender-bender. I'd ask for help from bystanders to get the correct location details to give the dispatcher. The dispatcher can help me calm down and organize my thoughts even in a terrible ordeal. Usually, they may even give helpful directions on checking on other passengers or how to approach the other driver if I suspect road rage.

4. Tend to passengers

The third thing I would do is to assess the injury of any other person in the vehicle. If anyone is seriously injured and first responders can't get there in time, I'll have to get help from the locals if possible. Moreover, if possible, I'd make sure to get everyone else out of the vehicle, especially seniors, children, or even pets.

5. Exchange insurance information

Once everyone is okay, it's time to document the accident. If the accident involved multiple cars, I'd have to exchange insurance details with any other driver involved. However, if they seem hostile, I'll wait for the police to arrive. We should exchange the following:

a. Full name and contact details of the driver
b. Insurance company and policy number for the vehicle
c. Number of the license plate and the driver's license
d. The vehicle's brand, type, and color
e. The accident's exact location

It is also wise if we don’t start pointing fingers or admitting fault at this point and let the insurance companies decide who’s at fault. I would also seek a good car accident attorney in case I need legal counsel.

6. Collect all relevant information

Insurance providers will usually require a full description of the accident down to the smallest details, including:
a. Names and contact details of everybody involved, including passengers and witnesses
b. The weather and precise location of the accident
c. The extent of damage to the vehicle. I’d use a smartphone or camera to take pictures
d. The model, color, and make of all vehicles involved
e. Names and badge numbers of all police officers who arrive on the scene
f. A copy of the accident report from the police
If the police didn't arrive on the scene, I would proceed to the nearest police station to file a police report. In recent years, insurance companies have started providing an efficient way to record these details through their mobile apps.

7. Begin the insurance claim

With all the details in check, it's time to call my insurance agent to begin the claims process. Doing it as soon as possible helps me identify any other details the insurance company may require, such as a "proof of claim" form. However, due to the pandemic, most providers have introduced virtual claims processes, including virtual inspections and so on.

A traffic accident can be quite a tragedy. However, after following these steps, we can all make sure we save lives while keeping ourselves from many unintended consequences.

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