Every car accident, no matter how minor, is jarring. The shock can make drivers flustered and act differently than they would, normally.
There are, however, certain steps that everyone should take in the immediate aftermath of a crash.
1. Check for Injuries
The first thing to do is check everyone in your vehicle for injuries. If a passenger in your car is hurt, then their well-being becomes a priority. If you are hurt – especially if you are seriously hurt – then you are going to have to rely on others to take many of these next steps.
2. Make the Scene Safe and Do Not Leave
Put your vehicle in park, turn it off, and put on the hazard lights. If your car is in a place where it can cause another accident – like if it is in the middle of the road after a blind turn – move it to a safe location, first. Otherwise, use cones, flares, or warning triangles to warn oncoming drivers of the wreck.
Under no circumstances should you leave the scene of the crash. Doing so is a crime under Missouri Statute 577.060.
3. Call the Police
Call the police, even if it seems likely that someone else has already done so. Tell them where the accident occurred and whether there seem to be any injuries.
4. Stay Calm and Remember that Accidents Happen
After a crash, everyone is worried. They are wondering how they will get to where they were going, whether their vehicle will need to be repaired or replaced, how much their insurance will increase, and numerous other things.
This strain can come out as anger, especially if someone thinks that the other person caused the wreck. Escalating the tension after a car accident can lead to an altercation and even, in some cases, gunfire. It is important to remember that everyone can make mistakes, drive negligently, and cause an accident. Only rarely are car accidents deliberate.
5. Take Photos of the Scene
If it is safe to do so, taking photos of the scene is important. They can be used as evidence, later on, and can be used to document the damages for the upcoming insurance claim.
6. Exchange Information with the Other Driver
You will also want to gather the other driver’s information, including:
- The name of the other driver and the names of anyone else in their vehicle
- A description of their vehicle, including make, model, and year, if possible, and the license plate number
- Their driver’s license number
- Their insurance company and policy number
It can also help to get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses, as well as the police officer who responds to the crash.
7. Do Not Discuss Fault
It can be tempting to apologize for the crash or to point your finger at the other driver. The immediate aftermath of the crash, though, is neither the time nor the place for this discussion. It can escalate tensions or, worse, you can say something in the heat of the moment that can be used as evidence against you.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
The personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to legally represent car accident victims in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.