A crashed car sitting on the side of the road in the dark

Even the most careful drivers can find themselves in a vehicle wreck, often through no fault of their own. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved, here’s what to do:

Be prepared BEFORE you get into a wreck. Be sure to keep all of the proper documentation in your vehicle — insurance and vehicle registration. You might also keep an ink pen and notepad in your glove compartment. These come in handy when you are exchanging contact information with other drivers and for making notes of any details you don’t want to forget.

Steps to Remember

Check everyone in your vehicle for injuries, including yourself. With the chaos and surprise of being in a wreck, it is easy to overlook potential injuries. Once you are sure everyone in your vehicle is OK, check on people who were in other vehicles. If you suspect someone is injured, do not attempt to move them from the vehicle unless they are in immediate danger.

Call 911 and request police and/or ambulance assistance if needed. A police report is an essential part of any claim.

If the wreck is a minor one and there are no serious injuries, move the vehicles involved out of the flow of traffic to a safe location such as the side of the road or a parking lot. No matter what, do not ever leave the scene of the wreck or you could be charged with hit and run. If you feel threatened or unsafe staying onsite, contact 911 and explain what is happening. You can return to the scene once emergency officials are onsite.

Try to remain calm. After a wreck, adrenaline and emotions typically run high. Getting into an argument with another driver or discussing fault at the scene can cause serious legal issues later.

Use your cellphone to take video and/or photos. Photos or videos of the wreck can be invaluable with dealing with insurance companies or in litigation if it becomes necessary. Use your cellphone to snap a photo of the other driver’s insurance and driver’s license. There is less chance of writing errors or lost information.

If you feel you are even slightly injured from the wreck, visit your doctor, emergency room or urgent care. It’s always better to get checked out as soon as possible following a wreck.

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, even if you were not at fault.

Keep all correspondence (email and written) regarding the wreck.

If you’ve been in a wreck caused by another driver, you don’t have to navigate the situation alone. Contact Tammy Bowles Raines for a free consultation.