When you’re in a car accident, you can be quite shaken–even a minor fender bender can be a frightening experience. Car accidents of all types bring high emotion and panic and in the aftermath of an accident, would you know what steps to take?

It’s important to know what to do ahead of time so that if you find yourself in this situation, you can react calmly and appropriately when you need to.

Take action

  • You’ll be a bit rattled, but take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Check to see if there are injuries in your vehicle or in the others. Attend to those needing medical attention and enlist bystanders to help if available.
  • Call 911, even if it’s a minor crash. The dispatcher will need to know about any injuries and the details about the crash, such as location, the severity and number of vehicles involved. In Kentucky, you’ll need a police report filed on the accident within ten days if the damage is more than $500 or there is an injury.
  • Move the vehicles from the roadway if possible, but remain at the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident you’re involved in carries stiff penalties and potential jail time, especially if there are injuries.

Gather information

It will be important for you to have as much information about the accident as possible. Get the names, addresses, insurance information and driver’s license information from the other drivers. In addition, collect information about the scene of the accident for later reference:

  • A description of the damage and injuries.
  • The weather conditions at the time.
  • Witness accounts if available, as well as their names and addresses.
  • If it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the scene. You’ll want to record any vehicle or property damage, details of the scene and license plate numbers. Pictures will help you to recall the details later.

When talking with the other drivers, keep the conversation light. Avoid apologizing or talking about who might be at fault. You don’t want to incriminate yourself, so stick to the facts and avoid offering your opinion.

Additionally, contact your insurance company as soon as possible with all of the information about the accident to file a claim and start the process of a settlement.

Follow up

A car accident requires a lot of follow up and paperwork. Keep a file of related information available to stay organized and reference when needed. You’ll want to keep track of any medical visits and bills, information from your insurance carrier, information regarding the accident, police reports and eyewitness accounts.

If someone was injured or there was significant property damage, you should contact an attorney for direction sooner rather than later to ensure the best outcome and meet any deadlines for filing a claim or lawsuit if necessary. Legal counsel can advise you on the best course of action moving forward and help you to get the best result.