Any kind of car accident, even a simple fender-bender, can be a strenuous and frightening experience. If the accident is a serious crash, you might have to take a bit of time to collect yourself and get a grip on the situation. Knowing what steps to take once the initial shock has faded will help you and the others involved get through the accident as calmly and efficiently as possible.
Check on injuries
First things first: Have you been injured? If so, call 911 if you can, or ask someone else to do it. If you are all right, check on anyone else involved in the accident and call for emergency personnel if there have been injuries. Once you assure that medical help is on the way, call the police and wait for them to arrive at the scene. While you wait, you may want to call your insurance company and inform them of the situation.
Document the incident
Ensure that the facts about the accident are noted properly. You can use your mobile phone to take pictures of the accident site and the damage that was done to the vehicles involved. If there were any witnesses, take down their names and contact information. When the police arrive, jot down their names and badge numbers and ask for a copy of their accident report. Keep in mind that if you have nothing to write with, you may be able to use your phone to make a voice recording.
Do not discuss details with the other driver, such as who was at fault in causing the accident; you are only responsible for exchanging name and contact information. Obtain all driver license numbers and license plate numbers. Note the types, models and colors of all vehicles involved and write down the VIN or vehicle identification numbers. Finally, describe the location of the accident and any information that might be important, such as weather conditions and the direction in which the various vehicles were going when the accident occurred.
Consider contacting an attorney
If you have sustained injuries, are facing a long recovery time or have significant medical bills because of the accident, a personal injury attorney with thorough knowledge of applicable rules and laws can be very helpful. The insurance company that represents the other driver will have a legal team that may try to reduce the compensation due to you or even attempt to deny your claim. Considering what is at stake, having an experienced attorney on your side may be in your best interests.