The latest data from City-Data show that in 2017, 201 people and 136 vehicles were reported to have been involved in fatal car accidents in Indianapolis. Most car accidents do not result in a fatality, and many others often go unreported. However, one in three accidents causes injury to the driver and passengers, some of which are fatal.
Many motorists and pedestrians don’t know what to do after a car accident. Some drivers panic and drive off while others fail to take the appropriate action.
Every road user needs to know that there are laid out procedures for handling such situations.
The first few minutes after an accident are critical. In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car accident, here is what you need to do.
1. Safety First: Stop and Protect the Scene
Your first action should be to secure the scene so as to prevent secondary accidents, especially on a busy road. Stop your car and put on the hazard lights, even if the other vehicle fails to stop. Place some reflective triangles a few meters back on the oncoming traffic lane to warn other motorists that there are stationary cars ahead.
This should also help direct other cars around the scene of the accident and keep the traffic moving.
If the engine is still running, switch it off. Step away from the car, and urge other passengers to do the same if you suspect that it is not safe to stay inside. Some signs that might indicate the vehicle is not safe to include smoke, electrical sparks, and leaking fuel.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Check if anyone, including yourself and other road users, is injured and in need of immediate medical assistance. If so, call 911 or the nearest emergency medical service. As you wait for the response team to arrive, attend to injured individuals using a first aid kit.
Check carefully for any physical injuries; even small impacts at low speeds can cause severe bodily harm. The increased adrenaline levels in your body may also mask the pain, making some injuries difficult to notice.
Even if you feel that you’ve not suffered any physical injuries, it’s advisable to check into a hospital afterward for a thorough medical checkup. Some trauma-related injuries such as concussions and internal injuries begin to manifest themselves long after the accident. But they become less of a problem if identified and treated early, so don’t take any chance.
3. Call the Police
After tending to the injured, call the police. It’s always a good idea to get the police involved, even in small accidents. Besides, you’ll need a police report to file for insurance claims.
The police will question all the parties involved in the accident, including any witnesses. Give an accurate account of the accident from your perspective. Remember not to mention anything that implies you admit liability or fault; this could be used against you in court or by the insurer.
4. Exchange Information
Exchange contact and insurance details with drivers or the cars involved in the accident. You could also take down the contact information of witnesses in case their account happens to be relevant to the case. The collected data will help you reach those involved in the accident and double check facts on the police report.
Make sure you have the full names of the divers, their insurance details, car registrations, and their driver’s license number.
5. Take Pictures of The Scene
Chances are you’ll still have your smartphone with you. If you don’t, borrow one and take several pictures of the scene. Capture some clear photographs of the damaged vehicles from various angles and distances, making sure that their registration plates are visible as well.
Once the police arrive, the damaged vehicles may be towed away or moved aside to clear the road. These photos could serve as useful evidence if there is any dispute in court or with the insurance company over the details of the accident.
6. Call Your Insurer
While still at the scene, call your insurance company and report the accident. They probably won’t send an agent right away, but they might give you some pointers on what to do and the information you need to collect.
If possible, find out whether the damage is claimable under your insurance cover. At this stage, the insurer may not give you a conclusive answer without investigating the case. However, many insurers encourage reporting accidents as soon as they happen.
Later, you should file your insurance claim and follow up on the insurance investigation to ensure that you get timely and fair compensation.
7. Pursue Your Legal Rights
Collect all the files related to the accident and pursue legal action if you discover foul play against you. It is your right to seek personal injury compensation if the accident was due to the provable faults of other road users.
If you feel that your insurer did not honor your claim fairly, you could challenge their decision in a court of law.
Also, you may find yourself on the other side of the bar being wrongfully accused of offenses leading to the accident. Don’t roll with the punches. You have a legal right to challenge inaccurate reports and testimonies by providing the relevant evidence to support your innocence.
The Takeaway On What to Do After a Car Accident
You won’t experience a car accident every day in Indianapolis. In fact, many drivers never get involved in a car accident at all. However, it is essential to learn what to do after a car accident, should it happen.
The important thing is to never panic after an accident. Compose yourself so that you have a clear line of thought to decide on the best course of action. Also, remember to first secure the safety of your passengers and other road users.
Remember to call for medical emergency assistance in case of severe injuries before proceeding with any other activities.
Contact us if you’d like to pursue compensation and justice for any injuries incurred in car accidents on the roads of Indianapolis. We are a personal injury law firm helping victims of unjust physical injuries seek justice in the state of Indiana.