According to Statista.com, there were 12 million vehicles involved in crashes in 2018, and millions happen every year. Fortunately, most only involve damage to property rather than the occupants, but there are still many injuries and fatalities caused by car accidents. If you’re involved in one, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and reduce the significant stress that comes with this scary experience.
Pull Off the Road and Switch the Emergency Lights On
The first thing you should do is to pull off to the side of the road, if possible. Whether you’re able to or not, it’s important to switch on your emergency lights to prevent another accident that occurs if other drivers can’t see you. It’s even more critical when it’s dark out.
Be Cautious When Approaching the Other Driver
No matter how upset you might be, never threaten or act aggressively, either verbally or physically, toward the other driver. You want to be extra cautious when approaching that individual, and if they seem threatening in any way, it’s better to avoid engaging with them at all. Instead, wait for the police to arrive and allow the officer to obtain the other driver’s license and insurance information.
If You’re On a Busy Road, Stay in Your Vehicle
If the collision occurred on a busy road like a freeway or highway and traffic is heavy, it’s best to stay inside your vehicle, remaining there until help arrives, as it’s not unusual for those involved in accidents to get struck by passing cars. Keep your seatbelt buckled, too, just in case.
Don’t Remain in the Car If You Smell Gas or Anything Burning
While it’s generally safer to stay inside your vehicle, there is a possibility that a fire can occur, which means if you smell gasoline or anything burning, get yourself and any passengers out as quickly and safely as you can.
Call 911 or the Police
If there are any injuries and medical assistance is required, call 911. Otherwise, unless it’s a minor fender bender, call the police so that they can document everything in an official report. The officer who arrives will assess the situation, interview any witnesses, and obtain statements of those directly involved. If vehicles are in the middle of a roadway, they’ll also be able to block the area off, veering traffic away to prevent further accidents while allowing room for any emergency vehicles and tow trucks to get through.
If you and your vehicle are in a safe place, use your smartphone to take pictures of your car and any injuries. Of course, if the police have already arrived, you shouldn’t interfere with the investigation. Otherwise, the more you can document in the form of photos, the more you’ll be protected, particularly if you weren’t at fault.
Call an Attorney
Unless the damage is minimal, getting legal advice after a car accident can help protect you financially. As soon as you can, perform an online search for a term like “car accident lawyer St. Louis MO” or the city where you live and request a free consultation. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable advice for building your case and helping you get a settlement, assuming the other driver is at fault.