THE BLOG
09/13/2016 03:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

7 Smart Things to Do Immediately After An Accident

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Accidents can happen any time, but do you know what to do when you're involved in one?

Accidents can happen at any time-sometimes within the twinkling of an eye, sometimes a prolonged ghastly 10seconds-and you may not be able to function properly afterwards.

From taking care of your injuries and reporting the accident, knowing the appropriate steps and things to do immediately can put you back on track as soon as possible.

Below are 7 things to do immediately after an accident or major injury.

1. Check for injuries

After an accident, it's very important to check for whether you or your passengers have any injuries. If anyone is injured, no matter the gravity or extent of damage, call 911 immediately. Also, consider always carrying a first aid kit in your car for the eventuality of any emergencies. Taking care of the injuries of the affected individuals should be your top priority.

Also, after leaving the accident scene, depending on the degree of injuries, especially if its leg related; probably swelling and spraining of ankles, consider getting compression socks immediately to ease the pain, avert inflammation and swelling and then help to rebuild damaged tissues.

2. Pull over

Please drive your car off to the side of the road to avoid advancing traffic or more damages.
If nobody is hurt and the vehicles can move, move them to the side of the road. Use signs as necessary. Put on the hazard lights in your vehicle and set up emergency triangles so oncoming drivers can see you. All these safety measures are vital in such emergency situations to prevent further accidents from occurring.

3. Call the police

No matter how minor the accident is, it's important to report it to the police. The aftermath of an accident can get complicated even if you have insurance, so you might just need a police report to file a claim at some point. While you wait for a police officer to arrive at the scene of the accident, exchange vital information with the other driver, get eyewitnesses and write down everything you can remember about the accident. Don't leave the accident scene until the police arrives and gets your statement. Also, remember to write down the name of the officer that took the report. It may come up useful later.

4. Exchange information

Exchange vital information with the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) that was involved in the accident. Make sure you get their names, phone numbers, house address, license plate number, driver's license number, vehicle identification number (VIN) etc. You can also write down the brand and model of the vehicle(s).

5. Document Information

If you haven't, take pictures if you have a camera available. Make sure to also write down the circumstances at the time of the accident: weather, traffic, how other drivers were driving, the time of day and maybe there was a big pothole on the road or a traffic light was out - just write down whatever you remember, as it may turn out to be helpful to the investigation.

6. Don't admit fault

Don't admit or lay blame on anyone for the accident.

After a car accident, please don't admit fault to the other driver or debate over what happened, trying to figure out who is wrong or right. Discussing can distort the mental image you have of the accident and then you won't be able to actually separate what you saw happened from what you discussed. You should only have this discussion with the police and your attorney. They will use evidence gathered from all parties to give final conclusions on the cause of the accident.

7. Protect yourself and your family

Call your lawyer as soon as possible and before speaking to any insurance company, including your own insurance company. Usually, insurance houses will contact you straight after an accident. You risk giving information, carelessly and unintentionally that can cause serious damage to your case. However, if you've spoken to your attorney first, he will guide you through making the report to your insurance company in the right way and give you instructions on your next steps.

Likewise, if you hit an animal, pull off to the side of the road and try to look for the owner if you think that the animal is a domesticated pet. However, if you cannot find the owner or it is a wild animal, call 911 or an animal rights/humane society. Don't try to move the animal to avoid additional injuries.

If there are injuries and damages, do not settle a claim without legal representation. Meet and discuss with your lawyer before anyone and before you start accepting any settlement offers.

Overall, it's important to take proactive measures right after an accident. Ensure that you seek medical attention immediately, protect any injuries, call for help, document every necessary information and get legal help immediately.