Car accidents are scary, startling things. One minute, you’re driving home. The next, you’re shaking, your heart’s racing like crazy, you’re breathing hard, and you might be badly hurt. In all the chaos, it’s easy to get confused and make mistakes.
That’s why you want to learn the seven key steps to take after an accident. They can help you avoid taking the blame when you shouldn’t. And that can mean a better, faster recovery. But if you don’t learn what to do until after you’ve already had the accident, it might be too late.
Check for injuries
Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Check on the other vehicle’s driver and passengers. Call for emergency medical treatment as necessary.
Call the police
The police will file a crash report for any accident that involves significant property damage or injury. The report will also help the insurance companies and courts decide how to assign blame for the crash, so you want to get the names and badge numbers of the officers involved.
Exchange insurance information
Politely ask the other driver for his or her name, insurance carrier and policy number. Record the vehicle’s license plate number. Many people also record drivers’ addresses and phone numbers as well as the names, addresses and phone number of all passengers involved.
Talk to witnesses
If there are any witnesses at the scene, you can ask them to tell you what they saw. Ask for their names and contact information. Witness testimony can help show who was at fault for the crash.
Chances are you have a smartphone. Pull it out and take photos of the scene. Photograph all the damage to your vehicle and the relative positions of all vehicles involved. Snap pictures of any skid marks or broken glass on the ground. These photos can help experts figure out what happened.
Notify your insurance
Call your insurance as soon as you can after the crash. Answer your representative’s questions to help him or her gain as clear a picture of the crash as possible. The better your insurance understands the crash, the more likely they’ll be able to push back against the other driver’s insurance.
Talk to an attorney
Especially in the case of serious injuries, you may need legal help to recover fully from a crash. Georgia’s minimum limits for auto liability insurance are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per event. Medical bills caused by car accidents can easily race past these limits, and an experienced attorney may be able to help you recover additional compensation.
The way you respond to a crash can have lasting consequences
Georgia is an at-fault state, which means that insurance companies and courts look to see who caused an accident. The driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying for the damages. If both drivers were partly to blame, the percentage matters. The way you act can help the courts and insurance companies understand who was really to blame.
This means you should avoid taking the blame, even by apologizing or saying “sorry.” You may also want to print out and store a copy of this extended checklist in your glove box. It can help you remember what to do even when your pulse is throbbing in your ears, and it comes with extra steps for after you leave the scene of the crash.