In the moments immediately following a serious car accident, you may be feeling scared or overwhelmed. It's difficult to know what to do first. In this blog post, we're explaining the steps you should take immediately after a car accident.
What To Do Immediately After a Car Accident
Seek Medical Attention
If you or anyone else involved in the accident is hurt, call 9-1-1 and ask for medical attention. Do not try to move any injured individuals yourself. If a child in a car seat is involved in the accident, do not take them out of their car seat. Let first responders assess any injuries. If you are in pain or feel usual, you should be taken to the emergency room. Some injuries can take time to manifest, and it’s best to have a medical professional evaluate you. Be sure to get a copy of your hospital paperwork, as it will be used in your personal injury claim.
Move to Safety
If your vehicle is still running after the accident, try to move it to a safe location. You can pull your vehicle over to the side of the road or use the emergency lane. Make sure you’re not causing a hazard for other vehicles. Turn off your engine and turn on your hazard lights. If your vehicle is not driveable after the accident, consider getting yourself and your passengers away from the wreck and standing somewhere safe.
Call the Police
When involved in a serious collision, the police should be called to the scene. The responding officer will fill out an accident report in which they document the scene and sometimes declare who is at fault for the wreck. Be sure to ask for a copy of this accident report. It’s also good to know the officer’s name, badge number, and police report number. Your personal injury attorney will likely use this information during the claims process.
Do not leave the scene until the police officer gives you permission. Otherwise, you may be charged with a hit-and-run.
Take Pictures of the Scene
Pictures and videos are key evidence in personal injury cases. If possible, you should take photos of the accident scene. You want to document the road conditions, any injuries, and the damage to the vehicles. It’s a good idea to photograph:
- Any obstacles or debris in the roadway
- Any skid marks or gouge marks in the pavement
- Weather or traffic conditions
- Any nearby street signs or traffic signals
- Different angles of the property damage
- How the vehicles are positioned on the road
- The other vehicle’s license plate
- The other driver’s ID, if possible
Exchange Insurance Information
While you do not want to speak at length with the other drivers involved, you do want to exchange contact and insurance information with them. You can take a photo of their driver's license and insurance card. Be sure you get their full name and phone number, insurance company, the policyholder’s name, and the policy number. If you can, write down a description of the other vehicle, including the make and model. The police officer at the scene will record some of this information in the accident report.
If there are any eyewitnesses to the accident, make sure you also get their full names and contact information. These individuals can provide important evidence in your case.
Don’t Post About the Accident on Social Media
It may be tempting to post photos of the accident on your social media accounts – but don’t do it!! Posting about the accident can hurt your personal injury case. The other party and their insurance company will scroll through your social media feeds and try to skew anything you post against you.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
In the moments after a serious car accident, when you’re dealing with stress and anxiety, you may not know what’s in your best interest. An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate your accident, preserve important evidence, and help build a successful case. Let us handle the insurance company and the personal injury suit while you focus on your road to recovery.
If you’ve been in an accident in California, our experienced team of San Franciso-based car accident attorneys at Bostwick & Peterson can help you build your case and reach a successful resolution. Contact our San Francisco offices today for a free consultation by filling out this online form or calling 888-831-8448.