Car crashes can range from a minor fender bender to a major collision- and all of them are pretty scary. Having worked with car crash patients every day, we at Buffalo Chiropractic, Acupuncture & Physical Therapy (BC + PT) know these high-stress situations can fog your thinking and leave you a bit lost. Bookmark this article and read on to prepare yourself in case of an accident.
Step 1- Check to see if anyone is hurt
After a car accident, major or minor, you may be feeling a range of emotions from fear to frustration. Ideally, you will be relieved that no one is hurt. Safety should be your top priority if you’ve been involved in a car accident, so check to see if you or any other passengers are injured. If you are, proceed with caution through the following steps.
Step 2- Move your car and yourself out of harm’s way
If you’ve been in a car accident and your car damage is minor, carefully switch on your hazards and maneuver your car to the side of the road to move out of harm’s way and keep traffic flow continuous.
If the damage to you or your vehicle is more serious, remember- safety is your number one priority, and your car should stay where it is.
Step 3- Call the police
If you or a passenger have been injured, it’s vital to call 911 as soon as possible. If no one was injured, it’s still important to report the crash to the police. Make sure to collect the police officer’s information, such as their name, badge number, and contact information.
If your injuries require immediate care, such as a trip to the Emergency Department, then some of the next steps may not be possible for you to complete at the scene of the crash.
Step 4- Do not leave the scene
Until the police arrive, do not leave the scene of the car crash. You’ll want a police report for your personal records and to help navigate insurance claims.
Step 5- Take pictures and record important information
After being shaken by a car accident, you may not be thinking logically, so remember this tip! Take pictures of everything at the scene of the accident with your cell phone, including the name and phone number of everyone involved in the accident, the damage to the cars, and any interior damage as well.
You’ll also want to take photos of and record the information of the vehicles involved in the accident, like license plate, make, model, and VIN. Also be sure to record details like the date and time of the accident, impact on the vehicle, weather and visibility details, and anything else you can remember. Most cell phones have a voice memo app that is helpful for this step.
One thing you shouldn’t share with anyone at the scene of the accident- important personal information, like your Social Security number or coverage limits on your insurance policy.
Step 6- Make the necessary calls
If your car is considerably damaged, you may need to call a tow truck. The police may call one, or your car may come with a driver’s assistance program phone number to call. In any case, make sure you take down the tow truck's credentials and contact information.
It’s also highly recommended that you call your insurance company and report the crash instead of negotiating a cash deal with another driver. If you don’t report the crash, you may be on the hook for accident-related damages.
Step 7- Start the claims process- possibly virtually
Some insurance companies have moved their claims processing to the virtual space, either through a mobile app or a website. If possible, while you’re at the crash site, make sure to call your insurance company and claim it, as your insurance company may ask you to use a remote feature on your smartphone to send through pictures and other details.
Step 8- See your doctor
Some injuries require immediate attention in an urgent care setting such as a hospital, while other injuries may not be evident right away after a car crash and symptoms may appear in the following days or weeks. Motor vehicle accidents can cause serious injuries, even from what seems like a minor crash, so make an appointment with your general practitioner, chiropractor or other specialist familiar with your health as soon as possible to get a proper examination.
Step 9- Stay proactive
Now that you’ve read this article, you’re prepared with the steps you need to take in an accident. Keep your registration, proof of insurance card, and contact information in the same place in your car so that you can stay prepared in case of an accident. And print this article to stay informed and make sure you’ve checked all the boxes.