What Should You Do if You or a Family Member is Injured in an Auto Accident?
When you are in a car crash, the immediate aftermath may be filled with worry, anxiety, and excitement. The adrenaline rush causes your heart to beat quickly, and you may feel nervous and unsure of what to do. If a family member is with you during a car crash, you may also be concerned about their health and safety. These tips help you know what to do first after you or a family member are injured in a car crash.
Step 1: Stay At the Scene
After an injury accident, you must stay at the scene until police arrive. If your vehicle is in a hazardous place, try to move it off the road. If this is not possible, put your hazard lights on and engage your parking brake. Avoid getting out of your car if it is in a dangerous place. Leaving the scene of an injury accident puts you at risk of hit-and-run charges. If your vehicle is smoking or on fire, get out of it.
Step 2: Check All Passengers
Check all of the passengers in your vehicle. Avoid moving anyone unless they are in immediate danger of more injuries. The shock of an accident could disguise injuries. For example, the adrenaline rush of the accident could disguise the rapid and irregular heartbeat related to upper body injuries. If any passengers are unresponsive, check them for a pulse. See if they are breathing.
Step 3: Call for Emergency Help
Call 911 for emergency help. Give as much information as you can, including your location, the make and model of your vehicle, how many passengers you have and the types of injuries. Also, give information about any other vehicles involved. If any of your passengers are severely injured or unresponsive, the emergency services dispatcher will guide you on how to perform CPR or how to put pressure on bleeding wounds.
Step 4: Keep Children Calm
If you are traveling with your child or children, do your best to keep them calm. Children may be tempted to unbuckle their safety belts. They may start to scream or cry out of fear or shock. Babies and toddlers may not be able to tell you where they hurt or how much they hurt. Avoid taking your child out of their safety seat unless your child or the vehicle is in obvious danger. Keep talking to your child until the emergency responders arrive at the scene.
Exchange Information With Other Drivers and Witnesses
You will need to get a lot of information from any other drivers involved in the accident and any witnesses who saw the accident take place. Some of the information that you need to collect includes:
- Other driver's name and witness names
- Driver's and witness contact information and addresses
- License plate and driver's license numbers
- Vehicle make, model and insurance information
- Police report number
- Photos of the other driver's license, damage to the vehicles and the vehicle license plates
- Photos of the accident location, direction of traffic, stoplight or street signs
Step 6: Call Your Insurance Company
While you wait for the police and ambulance to arrive, contact your insurance company. Some insurance companies require that you immediately report an injury accident. If you wait too long to report the accident, your insurance provider may not offer as many benefits. Your insurance company will likely want most of the information that you collect from the other driver and witnesses to the accident. The insurance agent will also need the police report number. You will need to get the tow truck information and receipts and provide them to your agent if a tow truck comes to the accident scene in order to haul your vehicle to the mechanic or salvage lot.
Step 7: Get Medical Treatment
It is important for you to get treatment for your injuries as soon as possible after a car crash. You might think your injury is minor, but X-rays or an exam may show otherwise. Ask to be transported to the nearest emergency room. If you have several family members with you in your car, it is possible that your family members may be taken to other hospitals. Give the ambulance drivers your contact information, especially if you are being separated from your children. Save all of the documentation from your medical treatment related to the car crash. You may need the documents for insurance purposes and for taking legal action against the other driver if you were not at fault.
Step 8: Contact an Attorney
As soon as you can, contact an auto accident attorney to represent you. Many insurance companies try to make a settlement offer that is too low. An attorney could negotiate on your behalf for a higher settlement in order to pay for your medical bills and those of your family members who were injured in the crash.
Scott Distasio is a personal injury attorney in Wesley Chapel. His career focus is on all types of personal injury cases. His work represents his belief that all firms should provide outstanding service to their clients. Follow @scottdistasio on Twitter to see what legal wisdom he shares next.