When the car comes to rest
The first steps you need to take emphasize the importance of making sure you inventory injuries and/or damage to the vehicle. That begins with yourself. Follow these steps after the car has stopped moving and before you try to get up from your seat:
- Assess yourself for injuries, especially numbness, bleeding, or painful spots.
- Do the same for any passengers in your vehicle if you are able to do so safely.
- Check for smoke or other signs that it is unsafe to remain in the vehicle.
- If the vehicle is operable, try to move it to the shoulder.
- If it is safe to do so, get out to assess the exterior damage to your vehicle.
Once you have finished those initial assessments, you will need to know the steps to take to finish resolving the situation.
Communicating with the other driver and with law enforcement
Whenever you get into an accident, it is important that you report it to law enforcement. Some areas will use the standard 911 line, but in other locations, there may be publicized numbers for reporting non-emergency accidents to the authorities. Reporting gives you the opportunity to get a record of your narrative of events while it is fresh, which can be important if you have a claim later. You also need to communicate with the other driver to exchange insurance contact information, if the other driver is capable of communicating.
If you are injured
Car accidents frequently result in injuries that require medical attention, and the costs of those injuries can add up, especially if you have lost income due to the inability to work during your recovery. That is when you need to talk to an experienced accident attorney who will be able to review your case with you and advise you about how to proceed, giving you the best possible chance of recovering those expenses.