Winter can be a beautiful time of year with holidays, snow covered hills, and cold clean fresh air. However, it is also a time of year when we see a surge in car accident injuries.
There are several reasons for this, but the obvious are slippery wet and icy roads, heavy rainfall, freezing fog resulting in poor traction and visibility, and traffic congestion. To make matters worse, there is no shortage of distracted drivers.
With all these factors working simultaneously, it is usually just a matter of time before a person gets slammed into or inadvertently does the slamming. So, just in case you are one of the many to experience the misfortune of a car crash, the following is an easy to follow 10-step guide on what to do immediately when involved in an auto accident.
- Stay calm. It is very important to keep the emotions under control for better decision-making as to not put yourself or your passengers in more harm than necessary. Once the emotions run out of control it will be very hard to reign them back in, and things can go from bad to worse in a hurry.
- Determine if need to call 911. If in doubt call 911. It is always good to tell your side of the story to the police first so an accurate police report can be made. It is also good to get checked out at the scene whether you think your injured or not, because often times the adrenaline can mask injuries. Emergency crews can better assess whether you need to be taken to the ER.
- Determine if safe to exit vehicle. Refrain from jumping out of the vehicle too fast. If you are in shock you may not realize how badly you are injured and further damage can occur. You also do not want to risk being hit by another vehicle once outside of the car.
- Assist other injured passengers. If you are physically able, check on other passengers and make sure they are coherent, stabilized, and comfortable. Refrain from moving passengers if you notice any type of significant injuries. Keep badly injured passengers alert and comfortable until emergency personnel arrive on the scene.
- Collect demographic information. Information such as date, time, location, names of other drivers involved, names of other passengers, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, other vehicles make, model and year.
- Collect insurance information. Information such as company name, policy number, phone number, insured’s name, and insured’s date of birth.
- Collect witness information. Information such as names, contact information, and brief written description of what they saw.
- Take photos. Start with a general overview photo of the scene and vehicles involved. Then zoom your way in too more and more detail. Make sure in the photos that the damage and the license plate can be matched to the corresponding vehicle. Also take photos of road design, intersections, and street signs and signals. If the vehicles were moved prior to the taking of photos, take photos of approximately where the vehicles ended up prior to them being moved.
- Report collision to your insurance company. With regards to the collision, just report the facts. Leave the guessing and speculation out of it. With regards to whether you think you are injured or not, it is recommended to not go into detail and just let them know you are going to get checked out by a doctor. If you tell the insurance company you feel fine but then 3 days later you start to notice pain, they will naturally question whether your pain is from the car collision or not. Remember, if you leave them loopholes to get out of paying on an injury claim, they will most certainly use them.
- Get checked out for injuries immediately. Whether you think you are injured or not, it is advisable to seek out a qualified doctor that understands and appreciates the complexity and vast scope of auto collision injuries. It is highly recommend finding a doctor that holds additional education just in these types of injuries, as it is not specifically addressed in the traditional doctor school curriculum. There are many advantages to getting checked out as soon as possible, but one is that the sooner any injuries are diagnosed and treated the better chances of experiencing a full recovery.