What Should You Do After an Automobile Accident?
Automobile accidents fall under the category of issues that you are acutely aware of but never expect to happen to you. Nobody imagines that a car crash will interrupt their daily commute. Unfortunately, accidents are a common issue both in New Jersey and across the nation.
There is an average of six million automobile accidents every year in the United States. The state of New Jersey alone accounted for 278,413 crashes in 2018. It is important to understand how to properly handle an accident given the frequency in which they occur. This will help calm your nerves and allow the process to run smoothly if you happen to find yourself in a worst-case scenario on the road.
Secure the Area
It is crucial that you prioritize the safety of everyone involved following an automobile accident. If possible, pull your car over to a safe space on the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. This will alert oncoming traffic to your situation and help you avoid a subsequent incident.
Once you have removed yourself from harm’s way, it is time to check on the health of everyone. Make sure that none of your passengers sustained any significant injuries. Next, step outside of your vehicle and check on anyone else involved in the accident. If someone is hurt, make sure to contact emergency services immediately so he or she may receive prompt medical attention.
Notify Law Enforcement
Law enforcement is your ally following an incident on the road. Contact the police even if you deem your accident to be minor. The officer will arrive at the scene and begin taking notes about the incident. He or she can help mediate the situation and will also file an accident report that could prove useful to you in the future. This will provide you with an objective assessment of what occurred and documentation of the incident to give to your insurance carrier.
Make an Accurate Record
Taking notes may be the last thing you want to do following an accident, but it is an essential part of the process. There is no such thing as too much detail. Collect the personal information of everyone involved and take thoughtful, step-by-step notes about how the crash occurred. Describe the damage to your vehicle vividly and anything else that may have had an impact on the accident such as the weather or road conditions.
Pictures can also be a helpful resource. If you have access to a camera, take photos of every vehicle involved as well as the surrounding area. You should also try to interview anyone that witnessed the incident. Ask them to provide their account of what happened to add to your record. Ultimately, your objective should be to collect as much information as possible through whatever means necessary.