Getting involved in a car accident is one of the most stressful experiences anyone can go through. While most accidents are limited to property damage, others can lead to fatalities. The grim possibilities make it easy for anyone to panic and spiral out if they get involved in an accident.

It’s almost instinctive to check yourself for injuries, call 911, or check your car for damage. You might not think about taking pictures of the accident or asking other forward-thinking questions such as “should I get an attorney after a car accident in Sacramento?” or “should I exchange contact information with the other driver?”

Hard as it might sound, you should try your best to stay calm and do certain things to make sure you protect yourself, the people you’re with, and your interests moving forward. Here are the five critical steps after a car accident to protect yourself.

1. Check for safety

Everyone’s safety comes first. If you can, move your vehicle to the side of the roadway to avoid further accidents. Don’t move anyone injured and wait for emergency help. If you’re on a dark road, keep your headlights on but not on a high beam to prevent blinding oncoming vehicles. Turn on your hazard lights and keep your seat belts on if you’re stuck.

If moving the vehicle to the side isn’t possible, but you can still move, set up early warning devices such as flares or traffic cones. These can draw attention to the vehicles or wreckage still on the road.

2. Call the authorities

Now that you’ve made a quick assessment of the situation, it’s time to call 911. It will bring emergency responders like medics and police officers to your location. At this point, it’s also important to remind you not to leave the scene. Do not drive away even if there’s no serious injury to either party. Driving away and being reported elsewhere would simply put you in a disadvantageous position. Make sure to report it to the authorities properly.

Whether you’re needing medical health or looking to file insurance claims later, calling 911 is always a good step you shouldn’t skip. There might be internal injuries that you would only identify after a proper examination. After settling the medical aspect, the next thing to consider is the police report. This dramatically speeds up your claims process, whether for injury or property damage.

3. Communicate with the other party

This is especially important for minor accidents on the road. You’ve probably experienced a fender bender and have the same talked over before going your separate ways. It was fun, friendly, and cordial until you filed for insurance claims. This will make you realize the complexity of the process, which would often eave you paying for repairs out of pocket.

Regardless of what happened, make sure to exchange basic information with the other party. This usually includes names, contact numbers and emails, addresses, driver’s license numbers, vehicle plates, and insurance details. While it sounds like an opportunity to make friends, try not to discuss the car accident that just happened.

There’s no need to insist and argue about who’s at fault either. The most crucial part is that you don’t discuss the accident and give statements that could be taken as an admission of guilt on your end.

4. Document the event

Suppose you’re not taking emergency medical care or being interrogated by the cops. In this case, you can start taking additional information while waiting for the 911 response. Take a photo of the accident before driving your car to the roadside, if not on a busy road. You can also take pictures of the car damage for documentation and filing purposes.

More importantly, you can ask eyewitnesses for their contact information if their testimonies will be needed. Make sure to explain the purposes of the information you requested.

5. Check yourself and seek compensation

Just because you’re out of immediate danger doesn’t mean that it is done and everyone can move on. You need to check three essential parts even after the accident has occurred.

  • Health: Again, even if you were let off without emergency medical treatment, it’s prudent to take a trip to your doctor. Where you only see a slight injury or a minor concussion, further tests could reveal something else that requires immediate attention. Additionally, if you or your passengers are experiencing psychological or emotional distress, visit a psychiatrist or a counselor who can help you out.
  • Legalities: It’s always important to consult a legal expert, especially if you need to take the next steps in safeguarding your property and health. The safest bet in these instances is to check out trustworthy personal injury attorneys specializing in car accidents. They can give you important legal advice or even represent you in court.
  • Insurance: Accidents are unexpected, and nobody wants them to happen. If the unfortunate does occur, insurance policies are there to make sure you don’t have to bear unnecessary additional financial burdens.

Stay safe on the road

Prevention is always better than cure. However, if you ever find yourself in a car accident, there are specific steps you can take to safeguard your health, safety, and property.

Despite the immediate anxiety that comes with the event, your presence of mind is an important asset that will help you. Then again, if worse comes to worst and legal assistance is needed, contact a reliable lawyer and they’ll help you fight back in protecting what’s yours.

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