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5 Things to Do If You Are in a Car Accident

Updated on October 4, 2013

Do These 5 Things After a Car Accident:

  1. Be Polite, But Quiet

  2. Take Pictures

  3. Get Witness Information

  4. Open Insurance Claim

  5. See a Doctor


Getting in a car accident is frustrating in the best of circumstances, and dangerous and deadly in the worst of circumstances. There are four things you can do in the day after being in a car accident that can make the experience easier to recover from both physically and financially.

ONE: Be Polite, But Quiet

In the moments right after an accident, even if it just a fender bender, you are in shock. You do not know what really happened. At best you have a slight idea what you were doing. Do not admit fault, even if you think you are at fault.

It is also important not to lose your temper, even if the other driver completely blew a stoplight, or some other reckless behavior. Witnesses will notice your behavior and may take sides against you if they feel you are a bully or unreasonable. Studies have shown human memories are tightly linked with emotions. If someone does not like you, it can actually affect his or her memory of what happened.

Politely exchange insurance information, make sure the other driver and passengers are physically okay, and keep quiet.

Take Pictures of Everything

Take Pictures of Both Cars and the Street or Intersection
Take Pictures of Both Cars and the Street or Intersection | Source

TWO: Take Pictures

Take pictures of everything. Take pictures of both cars, including license plate. You should also take pictures of the street or intersection. If you can do so without causing a scene, take a picture of the other driver and passengers in the other car as well. Cell phones make picture taking convenient, expected and low key. Make sure you or someone you trust is taking pictures. The scene of the accident will quickly get cleaned up and most law enforcement agencies do not take pictures of auto accidents, and if they do they may be considered evidence in a pending criminal investigation and off limits to you.

It is also a good idea to take pictures of the other driver’s insurance information. Little pieces of paper are easy to lose. The pictures you take can make the difference in getting a fair settlement from an insurance company and getting ripped off.

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THREE: Get Witness Contact Information

One of the biggest problems with many car accidents is the entire incident often ends up being a case of “he said, she said”. Look around and talk to witnesses. Ask them if they saw what happened and ask them for their contact information. Try to get a full name and phone number. If possible write down where the witness was standing at the time of the accident.

Find the Witnesses Before They Disappear

Get the Facts Before Memories Fade and the Scene is Cleaned Up
Get the Facts Before Memories Fade and the Scene is Cleaned Up | Source

FOUR: Open Insurance Claim

Often drivers with bad records will offer to pay for your car out of pocket if you just don’t report it to the insurance company. You do not have to tell the other driver your plans. You can ask for their information and tell them you will get back to them. However, you should report the accident to your insurance. In most states and with most car insurance policies opening a claim gives you certain protections. You can often get medical care at no cost if it is related to the car accident.

Your car may be drivable, but may still be totaled. If you fail to report the claim to your insurance soon enough, you may have an uphill fight getting your car repaired. When another driver asks you not to report the accident that usually means they have a bad driving record. Do not count on a bad driver to pay for your car repairs. Often this type “has a friend” with an auto body shop. You pay your insurance; you have the right to get your car fixed right by a professional.

See a Doctor No Matter How Good You Feel

Visiting a Doctor Right Away Will Help You Get Started on Recovery
Visiting a Doctor Right Away Will Help You Get Started on Recovery | Source

FIVE: See a Doctor Within 24 Hours

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident you are full of adrenaline and may feel no pain from the accident. You should still see your doctor within 24 hours if possible. First, your doctor is trained to see signs of trauma or injures you may have missed. Second, in the days after an accident you may begin to feel worse as muscles tighten up. Seeing a doctor early on protects you from accusations that you only saw a doctor when you decided you wanted money.

If you start to feel pain, or continue to feel pain within the first week after an accident go back to the doctor and describe the pain, Do not exaggerate, but do not minimize either. If you want to get better you need to be honest with your doctor. Getting prompt medical treatment also improves your chances of getting a fair settlement from the insurance company.

Take Action Right Away

Don't Let the Accident Get Old Before Protecting Your Health and Your Rights
Don't Let the Accident Get Old Before Protecting Your Health and Your Rights | Source


Taking these five steps requires a lot of time and effort in the minutes and days after a car accident. But, by following these five steps you increase your chances of having a full physical and financial recovery.

© 2013 Forseti


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