Car accidents happen frequently, and the outcomes are oftentimes tragic. Everyone is bound to experience a crash – major or minor – at least once in their lifetime. Whether it’s your first incident, or a repeat, there are certain steps to take to protect yourself down the road, which includes:

1. Stay at the scene

After a crash, stay at the scene. State law requires operable vehicles to pull off the roadway and into a safe spot, preferably close by. Check on anyone involved in the accident. Call 911 and notify them on the location and situation. Before law enforcement arrives, work on remaining calm and avoid overly interacting with the occupants of the other car, or eye witnesses.

2. Exchange information

Once law enforcement arrives, they will assess the scene, check on the parties involved and start on a report. While this is happening, you will want to exchange information with the other driver, such as:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Insurance company
  • Policy number
  • Driver license number
  • License plate number

You should also grab contact information from any witnesses.

3. Collect evidence

Additionally, it may be beneficial to make a written description of the scene for your own records. Record the location, time, weather and other details about the day. For you own documentation, describe the other driver’s vehicle and what you remember before and after the collision.

It’s also in your best interest to take pictures at the scene. For example, take photos of damages to the vehicles, and the surrounding area. If you have any visible injuries, such as cuts or bruises, document this as well. Any evidence could help make your case.

4. File an accident report

Afterwards, remember to file an accident report. Law enforcement sometimes files a report, but you will want to double check. A police report can speed up the process if you are filing a claim with insurance.

5. Know your rights

Things can get complicated after the crash. You want to avoid admitting any fault to the accident, despite whatever you might feel. Insurance is tricky to navigate, and one wrong move can leave you alone to pay the damages. Unfortunately, if a claim isn’t filed efficiently or correctly, individuals suffer the consequences. Make sure to act quickly when a settlement is on the line. Car accidents are emotionally and financially taxing, and you have a right to seek legal representation in these events.