If you’re involved in a car accident that results in serious injuries, your instincts will likely kick in; you’ll be motivated to call an ambulance right away and get help. But what if you’re in a car accident that isn’t associated with any injuries?
This situation gets complicated because in some areas, the police are reluctant to respond to accidents with no injuries. Does that mean you should avoid filing a police report and move on? Does it mean you should avoid calling the police altogether?
What should you do?
Confirm a Lack of Injuries
Just because it looks like no one was hurt doesn’t mean there weren’t any injuries. The adrenaline you feel may be masking the pain, so check your body for any points of damage. You’ll also want to check on any passengers in your vehicle and check on the other drivers and/or passengers involved in the accident. If you do notice any injuries, it’s important to call for medical help.
Get to Safety
As soon as possible, get your car to a safe place. You may be uninjured from the initial accident, but if you’re hanging around on a busy road, it’s only a matter of time before another driver crashes into you. If your car is drivable, move it to the side of the road. If not, get yourself to the side of the road as soon as possible.
Call the Police
Even if you think the police won’t want to show up, it’s important to call your local police department and notify them that the accident has occurred. In a best-case scenario, they’ll be willing to come out, collect information, and file a formal report. If they decide not to attend, make sure and get verbal confirmation and get the name of the officer who gave you this information.
Hopefully, the other driver is sticking around. At this point, you’ll want to exchange information. Make sure you see a copy of their driver’s license and write down details like their name and address – and exchange insurance information as well. While you’re at it, get documentation on all passengers and other parties involved in the car accident; confirm the number of passengers involved and write down their names.
During this phase, it’s important not to admit fault, even if you think you were responsible for the accident. Let the insurance companies figure that out.
Document the Scene
It’s important to formally document the scene, especially if you’re not going to have an official police report to explain the situation.
- Photos. Take several photos of all cars and all parties involved in the accident. Make sure you capture multiple angles and document the points of damage that seem most severe. It’s also a good idea to take photos of the surroundings, including damage to any nearby structures.
- Videos. You may also take video of the scene, showing the extent of the damage in 360 degrees. If you have a dash cam, now is the time to collect the footage and back it up. Depending on where the accident occurred, you may also be able to get your hands on security or surveillance footage that captured the full accident.
- Police records. Depending on the situation, you may want to request a formal police report or open a file with the police – even if they don’t come to the accident directly.
- Names and witness accounts. Finally, see if there are any witnesses who saw the accident unfold. If there are, get their names and addresses and see if they’d be willing to provide you with a written or verbal statement on what they saw – before they leave the scene. Memory is fallible and can change rapidly, so it’s important to document these eyewitness accounts early.
Notify Your Insurer
When you’ve taken care of everything else at the scene of the accident, you’ll want to contact your insurance company. Depending on the nature of the accident, they’ll instruct you on what to do next. They may contact the insurance company of the other driver, they may need more information from you, or they may begin the process for issuing payment.
Get Medical Attention
Even if it doesn’t seem like you’re injured, your injuries may surface a day or two after the accident. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to get medical attention after a car accident, no matter what. Document any injuries you may have and get a copy of your medical evaluation.
It can be tough to think clearly after an accident, even if there weren’t any significant injuries to deal with. However, remaining calm and following these steps can help you ensure that you get the medical treatment and compensation you deserve.