If you’ve never been in a car accident then consider yourself lucky. From the most minor of fender benders to life changing wrecks, there are moments of lost control that can shake a driver to his core. Even if a person doesn’t suffer any serious harm, it can take several minutes — or longer — to regain one’s wherewithal.
Take a Deep Breath
This is the hardest step to take. Depending on the severity of the accident, our initial reactions can range from rage and anger to extreme fright, or even shock. Taking that first deep breath helps us regain our minds. Whether you want to murder the person who hit you, or you’re afraid you might be seriously hurt, not having control over yourself isn’t going to help. Take a deep breath and then clear your mind for what comes next.
Assess the Situation
Okay, so you’ve taken a deep breath. What now? Well, you need to ask yourself if you’re in serious danger. Did you get pushed into oncoming traffic? Because things could get worse in a hurry if you did. Are you hurt? Can you move? Is everyone else safe?
Answering these questions will help you determine what you need to do next. This is the point when you make sure this crappy situation doesn’t get any worse.
If you or someone else is seriously hurt then calling 911 immediately is of the utmost importance. Don’t wait, because what seems like a minor injury could actually be far worse, and it’s best that medical professionals make the call whether or not you need medical attention. This also gets the police there so a police report can be filed. This is very important for liability reasons, and even a minor accident is worth documenting.
Assess the Damage
Take lots of pictures of the damage. This is vital for insurance reason. Document any sign of damage resulting from the crash, because if your car has problems down the road and you don’t document the damage your insurance company could refuse to pay to have those problems fixed. Let’s be honest, insurance companies love taking your money, but they don’t love giving any back to you when you need it.
Get the Other Person’s Insurance and Drive License/Contact Information
The police report should have this information, but don’t trust others to do what they should do. Make sure you’re going to be covered no matter what.
Listen to Your Body
Right after an accident you may feel surprisingly okay. This is normal, but if you start experiencing pain after a few hours, or even days, then you ought to go to a doctor. Be honest and clear about the pain you’re experiencing. Don’t exaggerate it or play tough guy. Your doctor is savvy enough to know just what kind of treatment you’ll require — if you’re honest.