If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know how scary it can be. It’s even more overwhelming if it’s your first time. When you’re shaken up from the collision, it may be difficult to think about what comes next. But knowing which steps to take can mean the difference between a quick recovery and a long, drawn-out situation that has a long-term impact.
The 6-Step Car Accident Response Plan
Millions of people are involved in car accidents on an annual basis. Thankfully, most of them are not life-threatening. Having said that, injuries are quite common. Thus, it’s important that you know how to respond in one of these situations.
Here’s a simple six-step response plan that checks all the boxes:
- Check Yourself for Injuries
Much like an airline stewardess tells you in the takeoff safety briefing, you always want to ensure your own safety before helping others. So the first step is to check yourself for injuries.
When we say check yourself for injuries, we mean physically putting eyes on your body. The adrenaline from the accident can actually mask pain and prevent you from feeling the symptoms of your injuries. A quick visual check will let you know if there are any obvious broken bones, lacerations, dislocations, or other issues.
- Check Others for Injuries
Once you’ve checked yourself, turn your attention to any passengers in your vehicle. Begin by making sure everyone is conscious and aware. Next, perform a quick visual check to ensure everyone is stable.
Once you’ve checked your passengers, you can proceed to the other vehicles involved. This is not the time to apologize for the accident. (Even if you think it was your fault, admitting fault on the scene can create some serious complications later on.) Instead, check on the well-being of everyone involved.
- Call 911
The next step is to quickly call 911 and get the appropriate first responders to the scene. If it’s just a fender bender and there are no injuries, you can probably just get a law enforcement officer to file a police report. But if there’s any sign or possibility of injuries, you’ll also want paramedics.
- Record Evidence
Once the appropriate responders have been called, you can use the waiting time to record any evidence at the scene. This may include taking pictures and video, gathering contact information from witnesses, recording an audio statement of your account, noting the time, etc.
Any evidence you have will help strengthen your case and give you more options as far as filing a claim and negotiating with insurance companies.
- Contact an Attorney
Speaking of insurance companies, you don’t want to negotiate with them on your own. They are manipulative and will try to take advantage of you. We recommend hiring a car accident attorney who is experienced handling cases similar to yours.
A good car accident attorney will act on your behalf and help you file the appropriate claims, negotiate, and get everything you need in order to fully recover and move on with your life.
- Focus on Recovery
One of the biggest benefits of hiring an attorney is that they allow you to focus on your recovery. In other words, they handle all of the complicated financial and legal issues. This allows you to work with your healthcare team to rehab injuries, heal, and regain strength.
During your recovery process, don’t neglect your emotional health. Sometimes the stress caused by a car accident can create issues the next time you get behind the wheel. By talking through your fears and concerns with a therapist, you can alleviate symptoms of PTSD. It may also be helpful to take a defensive driving course.
Have a Plan Ahead of Time
When you’re involved in a car accident, a flood of emotions takes over your body. This includes fear, pain, anger, confusion, and acute stress. In the moment, it’s very hard to think clearly. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead so that you know precisely what to do in a situation like this. Review these steps over and over again so that you make smart decisions in the midst of the chaos!