What should you do immediately after a car accident?

No one plans to be in a car accident. But with as many as 50 million people being involved in one every day, there is a chance it could happen to you. Before you’re injured in a car accident, you need to know the steps to take to protect yourself and ensure a minor injury doesn’t develop into a chronic condition.

Below you’ll find the most important steps to take if you’re in a car accident and the best order in which to do them.

Check to see if you’re injured immediately after a car accident

The very first thing you need to do is to determine whether or not you’re injured. If you are, call 911 immediately. If you’re seriously injured, try not to move. Ask one of your passengers or a witness to call 911 and wait for the emergency services to arrive.

Check your passengers for injuries

If your injuries aren’t too severe, find out how your passengers are. If they’re badly injured, instruct them not to move and call 911. If you’re unable to make the call, ask another passenger or witness to call for you.

Move to a safe space

It’s important to get to safety if you and your passengers are able to. Move to a safe space at the side of the road or the sidewalk. If your vehicle is causing a hazard and it’s safe to drive, pull it to the side of the road.

Call 911 immediately after a car accident

Even if no one’s injuries are severe enough to call an ambulance, you still need to inform the police. In many states, it’s illegal to avoid reporting a car accident to the authorities. Whether you’ve been in a minor bump or a serious collision, call the police.

Wait for help to arrive

It’s important you wait for the police to arrive. When they’re at the scene, they’ll fill out an accident report and document what happened. If the police can’t come out to the accident site, it’s your responsibility to go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself.

Exchange information with the other driver

The next step is to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. The Insurance Information Institute recommends exchanging:

  • Full name
  • Contact information (address, phone number, email address, etc)
  • Location of accident
  • Insurance company name and policy number
  • Driver’s license and license plate number
  • Type, color, and model of vehicle

Document the accident

To protect yourself and improve the claims process, try and document the accident as clearly as you can by doing the following:

  • Ask for the names and badge numbers of all responding officers.
  • Request a copy of the accident report from one of the officers present.
  • Take many pictures and videos of the scene from all angles.
  • Write down the names and addresses of everyone present, including passengers.
  • Ask for the names and contact information of all witnesses present.

Notify your insurer

If it’s possible, it’s always best to contact your insurance company while you’re at the scene and report the accident. This way, you’re in the best position to collect the exact information they need to process your claim. If your vehicle is undrivable, they’ll also arrange to have it towed straight to a certified body shop. 

Make a doctor’s appointment

Even if you think you didn’t sustain any injuries during the accident, it’s crucial you make an appointment to see your doctor. Only a medical professional can give you a full assessment and determine whether there are any concealed injuries that may develop into serious problems in the future.

Sometimes injuries don’t become apparent for a couple of days after the accident. Schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as you can so you can begin treatment quickly.

See your chiropractor immediately after a car accident

You should also make an appointment to see your chiropractor for the same reasons. The sooner you see your chiropractor, the more effectively they’ll be able to treat your injuries. A chiropractic visit shortly after the accident can also minimize inflammation, improve your range of motion, prevent musculoskeletal stiffness, and reduce soreness from the buildup of scar tissue.

You don’t need a doctor’s referral to visit a chiropractor. You can make your appointment quickly and easily online. Having a full assessment by a chiropractor may also make it easier to get compensation as part of an insurance claim.

The most important thing

The most important thing to do after being in a car accident is to be seen by a professional. Even if you think you feel fine, it’s impossible to determine all injuries and their severity without being seen by a medical professional.

If your injuries are obvious and serious, you need to call an ambulance right away. If your injuries are minor or unapparent, it’s still essential you make an appointment with your doctor or chiropractor. The longer injuries go untreated, the more likely they are to develop into a serious condition that could affect you for the rest of your life. 

About the author

Matt has been helping providers within the healthcare setting for over a decade realize how best to solve a patients problem by understanding the individualism of each patient and what their true needs are.  To focus on the patient and they “Why” they need their particular service that goes beyond the initial reason for them to seek treatment.

In the Chiropractic world now for over 3 years, Matt not only takes the knowledge he has gained from other healthcare services he has supported,  but also has access to over 75 years of combined real life hands on experiences from the many doctors within the Veeva Chiropractic landscape.

Read more about Matt here >>