The car accident happens without warning. You never see the other vehicle as the driver runs the red light. All you know is that they hit the back of your car as it spins out of control in the intersection. You hear your passengers yelling in the back seat. Then the car comes to a stop in the rising dust on the side of a Kentucky road.
Now what? You have never been in a serious crash before. What should you do?
First and foremost, check on your passengers. Examine yourself. See if anyone has suffered serious injuries that need immediate attention. Forget about the car, the other driver and the legal ramifications for a moment. Health should be your top priority. Start there. Then consider these steps:
- Contact the authorities. The best move is just to call 911. You want a police officer to come stop traffic and write a report. You want a medical team to check you out and take any seriously injured parties to the hospital. Get that process started as soon as you can.
- Talk to the other driver. You want to at least get their contact information and insurance information. Do not allow the situation to escalate, even if you feel angry and frustrated by what happened. Just calmly exchange information and never admit fault; in the above example, you clearly were not at fault, but you do not want to admit it at the scene even if you think you were. Wait for the facts to come out.
- Take pictures of the crash scene. If you don't need immediate medical care yourself -- or even if you do wind up needing care when the EMTs arrive -- it can help to take photos of the scene. The more documentation you have of exactly what happened, the better off you will be if the crash leads to a court case.
- Talk to any witnesses. Along with photos, witness statements can help back up your story. The witness may have seen something you did not. For instance, maybe they were sitting at the red light and can attest that it was red when the other car went through; it all happened too fast for you to see clearly.
- Get medical treatment. This is not the last step, per se, but it bears repeating: See a doctor after an accident. Remember that symptoms can sometimes show up days or weeks later. Get the help that you need and the official medical records to back it up.
In the wake of a such a sudden and traumatic event, make sure you are also well aware of the legal options you have to seek financial compensation.