According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 5.6 million car accidents happen annually. Getting into a car accident can be a traumatizing and stressful event. It can be even worse if you aren’t prepared for what to do next.
Here are some steps to take if you are involved in a car accident.
Check for Injuries
Immediately following a car accident, it’s best to stay calm and check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Also, check if other drivers involved have been injured. If you or someone else was injured in the accident, call 911 or ask someone else to and wait for emergency services to arrive.
Move to Safety
As long as no one is heavily injured, you should attempt to move to safety. Pull your car off to the shoulder of the road, turn on your hazard lights, set up flares, and ensure you and others involved in the accident are off the road, away from traffic. This will help other motorists be aware of the accident and prevent further damage.
Call the Police
Even if no one was injured in the accident, you should call 911 and notify the police. Mississippi Law requires all residents to report accidents to the authorities. Contacting the police is essential because they will come and file a report of the incident. Additionally, your insurance company may ask for a copy of the report later when you file a claim.
When speaking with police about the accident, remember to:
Provide only the necessary facts.
Keep your answers brief and succinct.
Never estimate or give your “best guess.” Only provide information of which you are certain.
Avoid apologizing, incriminating language, or any reference to how you may potentially be at fault.
Be polite, accurate, and honest.
Making your own documentation of the event can also help your claim later on. Record as many details as you can remember and take photographs of the scene.
Before leaving the scene of the accident, you will want to exchange information with other motorists involved. Vital information to exchange includes:
Full name and contact information
Insurance company and policy number
Driver's license and license plate number
Color and model of the vehicle
You can also speak with any witnesses of the accident and gather their contact information.
Seek Medical Care
Sometimes, you won’t feel the symptoms of injuries from a car accident for a few hours or even days after the accident. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 14% of deaths from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) directly result from car accidents. Even if you don’t feel any symptoms, it’s important to check yourself out by medical professionals as soon as possible.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
Whether you plan to file a claim or not, contact your insurer as soon as you can so that the details of the accident and they can outline exactly what steps to take in filing a claim. Filing a claim can be complex and confusing, so you’ll want to start the process quickly. That being said, do not speak to an adjuster until you’ve obtained legal representation.
Contact Legal Representation
Having experienced legal representation by your side is the best way to navigate the process. Contact your personal injury attorney or hire one to speak with your auto insurance company following the accident.
Keep in mind that insurance adjusters almost never have their clients’ best interests at heart and can manipulate you into admitting fault so that their company does not have to pay out on your claim. A skilled personal injury attorney is wise to the ways of insurance companies and will fight to get you the best results possible for your case.
Car Accident Lawyer in Hattiesburg
At Johnson, Ratliff & Waide, our team of Hattiesburg car accident attorneys has years of experience guiding our clients through recovery and getting them the compensation they deserve.