About five and a half million car accidents occur in the United States each year, which cause about 40,000 deaths and three million injuries annually. Chances are you’ll be involved in some sort of traffic accident, so it’s helpful to be aware that it can happen to anyone, and know what to do when it happens. The time immediately following a car accident can be extremely stressful and confusing, but the first thing you need to do is try to stay calm. Here’s what you need to do next:
1. Check Yourself for Injuries
Check yourself for any injuries. Car accident injuries aren’t always apparent — like muscle tears, strains, and sprains (like whiplash) — so if you are at all unsure of your physical well being after an accident you should call an ambulance just in case. If you have suffered any injuries, you should make sure to document them as well as you can with doctor’s notes and photographic evidence.
2. Move to Safety
If the accident is minor and you have not been injured, you should try to move your vehicle out of the roadway and into a safe area to stay out of traffic and help avoid further accidents. Use your car’s hazard lights and use any safety equipment you may have in your car like cones or anything that might help the accident be more visible to other drivers.
3. Notify the Police and Your Insurance Company
After you have assessed your injuries and moved to a safe place, you should first call the police to report the accident. While you’re waiting for law enforcement officials to arrive, you should exchange personal contact information and insurance with anyone else involved in the accident. You should also call your own insurance company to report the accident and take pictures of anything that could be used as evidence, like damages and the condition of the road.
4. Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
Once you’ve reported the accident and collected all of the information you need, you should call a car accident lawyer. The right car accident lawyer will have expertise in handling personal injury claims that come as a result of car accidents. This includes scrutinizing your injuries, evaluating your pain and suffering, knowing how insurance companies operate, and going over accident cases similar to yours.
Most personal injury cases get settled before they even get to trial — 95% to 96% of them — so having a car accident lawyer in your corner to help you negotiate with the liable parties is important. If the case does go to trial, then you’ll have an experienced professional to fight your case.