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What To Do Immediately After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault

What To Do Immediately After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault

Whether you’re behind the wheel when your car gets rear-ended… or you think you’re safely standing at a crosswalk as someone runs a red light and somehow knocks you from your feet… auto accidents are truly shocking incidents. But they happen to the best of us. And that’s why we’ve assembled this useful guide to help you handle whatever might happen at the scene of an accident.

Knowing What to Do (And What Not to Do) Is Critical!

Remain in your car at first. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your immediate inclination may be to jump from your vehicle to presumed safety. But that could be a very bad idea. First, take a moment, take a breath, and try to assess the situation. Is the accident actually over, or are there likely to be secondary crashes due to oncoming, nearby traffic? Are there treacherous weather or road conditions (black ice, for example) that could lead to additional impacts? Is your car still in a traffic lane, or has it been pushed off the roadway? Is the vehicle stable, or could it be precariously perched on the edge of a ravine?  Remaining inside your car to gauge your circumstances – even for just a moment or two – could save your life.

Take care when opening your car door. Once you’ve examined your surroundings and have verified it’s safe to step outside the car, exercise caution when doing so. There could be fluids on the road, including antifreeze, fuel, or motor oil, that could contribute to a fall. Depending on your location, other moving vehicles may come dangerously close to yours. The slightest stumble could lead to terrible consequences. Reacting slowly at first is likely much safer than trying to emerge from the car too quickly.

Call 911 when you’ve determined you’re in a safe place – whether that’s inside your vehicle or well away from the road. Getting law enforcement on the scene quickly can help defuse any aggressive behaviors that could arise. Plus, police officers are equipped to offer first aid, will arrange for emergency medical assistance, and can help you remain safe from other highway hazards.

Move your vehicle away from traffic flow if it’s drivable and safe for you to do so. This will make it easier for emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, and tow trucks to access the site more quickly. If there is not a fuel leak, activate your car’s hazard lights or ignite traffic safety flares if you have them in your car emergency kit to help other drivers avoid inadvertently crashing into vehicles at the accident scene.

Exchange necessary details with other drivers. This might feel awkward, but it’s essential. Politely and calmly offer to share your own insurance information, name, address, telephone number, and other relevant details. Then ask the other people involved in the accident for theirs. Be prepared to do the same with law enforcement officers when they arrive, too. However, other than exchanging this identifying type of information, it’s best to remain silent about the specifics of the accident — lest those words come to haunt you should you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Take pictures at the scene if it’s safe. If possible, take photos to show skid marks, damage to the vehicles involved in the collision, ice on the road, potholes, and anything else on the scene that may have contributed to the accident. You could also use your phone’s camera to photograph the other driver’s license, insurance card, and license plates, so you’ll have a convenient electronic record of these important details.  

Collect contact information from any witnesses. People who stop at the accident scene can provide a lifeline by offering assistance at the scene, and they can also assist you long afterward if you need them to testify about the accident details. It can, of course, feel uncomfortable asking unfamiliar people for their names and numbers, but you would be wise to do so, if possible.

Call your insurance company. It’s never too early to let your insurer know you’ve been in an accident.  These days, getting a replacement rental car can be difficult, so the sooner your agent knows your car isn’t drivable, the more likely you’ll be to efficiently acquire a rental vehicle. Your insurer might also provide you with recommendations for body repair facilities, but remember that, in Michigan, you have the right to choose your own repair shop. The Society of Collision Repair Specialists has published a list of the all 50 states’ laws governing how insurers must deal with consumers in choosing body shops, which can come in handy if you’re ever involved in a crash while traveling.

Get necessary medical care. Even if you’ve been in a seemingly a minor collision, it’s always wise to get checked out by a healthcare professional. Too many times people think they’re fine immediately after an accident, only to discover days (or even weeks) later that they’re experiencing serious, long-term injuries. Doctors call these “delayed presentation” injuries, and they can be devastating if left untreated.   For your own peace of mind, we urge you to take the time to be professionally examined after any accident.

Call a lawyer – preferably one of the personal injury specialists at Mike Morse Law Firm. We know how the legal system works and can help you navigate filing a lawsuit that could reimburse you for excessive medical costs, cover unpaid repair charges (like insurance deductibles), pay for rehabilitation, and even make up for some of the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. Our number is easy: 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946). Write it down!