You’ve Just Been in a Car Accident, Do You Know What to Do?

Keeping a level head after a motor vehicle accident isn’t easy, especially if there are injuries or fatalities involved. And early estimates of traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2022 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show a disturbing trend. 

According to NHTSA, 9,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes in early 2022, which represents an increase of 7 percent compared to the 8,935 fatalities from the same quarter in 2021. This is the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002. 

An estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2021, a 10.5 percent increase over 2020 and a 16-year high. 

 “The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction. Now is the time for all states to double down on traffic safety,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Administrator.

Whether or not you’re ever faced with the unfortunate experience of being in a car accident, would you know what to do? 

Before An Accident Ever Occurs

The key to keeping it together after a crash is to prepare before an accident occurs. Start by assembling an accident kit for your car, and keep it in your trunk. Include basic medical supplies, a pen and paper for notes, and medical alert cards for any family member with allergies or other medical conditions.

The First 10 Minutes After An Accident

Whether or not you caused a collision, you should be prepared to act in your best interest despite the shock and stress that immediately follows a crash. Here’s what you should do in the first 10 minutes after an accident happens:

  1. Stay calm – Assess the health and safety of your passengers before you do anything else. 
  2. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or anyone else in your car is injured. Your first priority should always be to make sure that help is on the way for anyone who needs medical attention. 
  3. Get out of harm’s way – If property damage is minor and you can do so safely, move cars and people out of traffic.
  4. Turn hazard lights on to warn other drivers.
  5. Exit your vehicle safely and check on the drivers and passengers in other vehicles for injuries. Make sure help is on the way, if necessary.
  6. Call police even if the accident is minor and there are no injuries. Don’t leave until they arrive.
  7. Be polite, don’t blame others and don’t admit fault.
  8. Take pictures with your cell phone camera if it’s safe to do so.
  9. Exchange basic information with other drivers: name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number and insurance company details. But DON’T discuss blame or any other specific details about the accident.
  10. Ask witnesses for names, phone numbers and addresses.

The First 10 Hours After An Accident

One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to record details about it ASAP. This can help protect you in the event of filing a claim against an at-fault driver and to ensure you’re treated as fairly as possible. Here’s what has to happen within the first 10 hours after the accident:

  1. Secure vehicle for transport; remove valuables or other personal items.
  2. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you were injured, even if you think your injuries are minor.
  3. Write notes for your records on everything about the accident, including weather, time, location, statements made, etc.
  4. Contact your insurance agent to discuss your property damage only.
  5. Revisit the accident scene and take photos. Look for skid marks or anything else that seems important.
  6. Photograph your injuries if they are visible.
  7. Obtain police reports as soon as they are available.
  8. Evaluate damage to your car and get repair estimates.
  9. Contact your employer if you cannot work.
  10. Contact your attorney …

The First Call After An Accident

After you’ve taken the steps outlined above, the first call you should make after the police and your insurance agent is your attorney. Especially if you are injured and/or there is extensive property damage, before you provide information to an adjuster from another driver’s insurance company and if anyone is pressuring you into a quick settlement. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.