If you’ve been in a car accident, you know how frightening and disorienting it is. There are more than 35,000 car-accident fatalities per year and being in an accident brings you face-to-face with your mortality.

Prepare yourself before you have an automobile accident. Following the right steps ensures the post-accident process goes smoothly. The last thing you need after a wreck is to find out your insurer won’t pay because you did something wrong.

Follow these five tips for dealing with a car accident.

  1. Move the Car and Call the Authorities

Even a minor fender-bender can cause some major headaches if you don’t have an accident report. Move your car out of traffic to the side of the road if possible.

Call 911 and report the accident and any injuries. Sometimes the police won’t come if there aren’t injuries but document that you made the call.

If the police don’t come, exchange your information with the other driver and get information from any witnesses. What information?

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Insurance provider and policy number
  • Vehicle occupants’ names and information

Don’t admit fault to the other driver, and don’t make any promises about not advising your insurance about the accident. If you’re driving a truck for work, you may need other advice. Learn more here.

  1. Stay Calm

After an accident, your emotions are running high. You may feel scared or even panicked. If the accident wasn’t your fault, you may be angry.

Don’t escalate an already difficult situation by yelling at the other driver. You don’t want more than an accident on your hands. Avoid conflict by staying in your vehicle if possible.

Speaking of staying in your vehicle…

  1. Avoid Further Injury

Accidents often happen on highways or busy roads. If you must exit your vehicle, be extra careful. Don’t survive a car wreck only to be a pedestrian fatality.

Is someone injured? Don’t move them unless they’re in danger. You could cause worse injuries, especially to the neck and spine.

  1. Take Photos and Call Your Insurance

If it’s safe, take plenty of photos. Get photos of the surrounding area so you’ll be able to describe how the accident happened. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible.

While you’re taking photos, jot down a few notes. Our minds are notoriously bad at remembering important details, especially during a traumatic event. It’s because the brain focuses on survival, not remembering.

  1. Don’t Sign Anything Yet

If you had injuries and end up in the hospital, don’t sign any insurance release forms yet. Sometimes the insurance company offers some money upfront if you’re willing to sign a release. Make sure you know what all your costs are before accepting any settlement.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident

Take these five steps after a car accident for a smoother post-accident experience. By calling the police and filing a report, you reduce your chances of legal trouble down the road.

Remember to always wear your seatbelt, drive safely, and never drink and drive!

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