What is the first thing I should do after an accident?

First, make yourself safe. Sometimes a simple accident can turn into a pileup.  Also, Texas law requires drivable vehicles to move off the main roadway onto the shoulder.  

woman after car accidentSecond, call the police and report the accident.  You need the police there to write an accident report.  They usually take a while to show up, so make the call as soon as you can. When they show up, make sure you talk to them about what happened.  Don’t guess about things you didn’t see or don’t remember.  

Getting in an accident is traumatic.  In times like this, the human body fills with adrenaline, and that can mask pain.  So when the officers ask, let them know about any obvious injuries.  But rather than telling them you are not injured, let them know that you would like to get checked out by a doctor to see if you are injured.  Many times, pain and soreness show up days after an accident.

Third, exchange contact information and insurance information with the other drivers.  If the police are there, they will usually facilitate this.

Fourth, take pictures if you can.  You want pictures of each car that is involved in the accident, and whatever damage the vehicles sustained.  Get pictures of the accident scene as a whole, showing landmarks and intersections in the background.  Also, take pictures of any injuries you have.  Scrapes and bruises heal pretty quickly, so document these injuries with photos through the healing process.  The same is true for more significant visible injuries.  Every few days, take a few pictures.

phone call after car accidentFifth, call your own insurance company and report the accident.  Don’t go into detail about any injuries, simply say that you are going to go get checked out.  Your policy might cover a rental car.  If it does, ask for help setting that up.

Lastly, go to the doctor and get evaluated soon after the accident.  Ideally, this will be the same day as the accident.  If you wait to get evaluated, the insurance company will try to blame your injuries on something else.  Keep in mind, that many doctor’s offices won’t treat you for accident-related injuries, so you might have to go to an emergency room or urgent care center for your initial evaluation.  If you need help setting up treatment, a lawyer can help point you in the right direction.