A fender bender isn’t a fun process to deal with, and most people usually don’t know the proper steps to take afterwards either. Here are the most important 1st steps to take after you’ve found yourself in a car accident.

Every year, between 20 and 50 million people are injured in car accidents in the United States. An additional 1.3 million die from their injuries.

If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident, you know how scary it can be. From dealing with injuries to getting your car repaired to getting to and from work while waiting for those repairs, it can cause a major disruption in your life.

Even a seemingly minor fender bender can have a lasting effect.

If you’re involved in a major car accident, you may be forced to wait for the police to tell you what to do next or wait for an ambulance to take you to a hospital. But sometimes what you need to do is less obvious.

Keep reading to learn what to do after a fender bender or other more minor car accident to keep yourself and your passengers safe, and to prepare for the legal aspects you’ll need to deal with later.

Here are some tips that we’ve put together for our San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers at Mova Law Group, Injury Attorneys.

Stay Calm

The first and the most important thing you need to do after any kind of car accident is to remain calm.

In the moments immediately after a fender bender, it can be easy to go into panic mode.

If you have kids or other family members or friends in the car with you, they might be upset or even injured. If you’re in the middle of a busy road, you might start worrying that other cars will hit you. If your car is damaged, there could be smoke or debris blocking your view of the area around you.

But before you let that fear, confusion, and panic set in, take a deep breath. Whether you think you are at fault or not, remind yourself that accidents happen.

Immediately beginning to get upset or angry will only hamper your ability to think clearly about what you need to do to protect yourself and your passengers and get the information you need.

Check for Injuries

Once you’ve taken a deep breath, the next thing you need to do is a self-assessment.

Consider whether you might be injured. While adrenaline can keep you from feeling sore muscles or whiplash that you might be able to ignore for a while, you shouldn’t try to move if you think you may have more serious injuries.

Next, check on your passengers. Ask them whether they think they are hurt and look them over to see if there are any visible injuries that need to be addressed. If there are serious injuries, do not attempt to move your vehicle or move the injured person until an ambulance arrives.

Once you’ve made sure that everyone in your car is okay, exit your vehicle to check on the driver and passengers in the other vehicle.

If the fender bender occurred on a busy roadway, be very careful when leaving your car. If you don’t think that you can safely exit its best to remain in your car until police arrive.

If you can get out safely, ask the driver of the other vehicle whether he or she is okay, and ask whether any passengers in the vehicle have any injuries.

There will be plenty of time later to determine who was at fault, exchange information, etc. Making sure that any injured people get treatment right away should be the first priority.

Call 911 and Get a Police Report

If someone involved in the accident is injured, the first thing you should do is call 911 and request an ambulance. If no one was injured though, you should still call 911.

Each state has different requirements for what should happen after a car accident. Some states do not require a police report for accidents. Others require one if a certain amount of damage is done to one or more of the involved vehicles. Some states require a police report for any accident that occurs off of private property.

When you call 911, let the operator know, “I had an accident,” and be sure to tell them that no one was injured.

When the accident is minor, and if you live in a state that doesn’t require a police report, it can be tempting to skip this step.

This may benefit you if you were at fault because the accident won’t go on your record. But if you weren’t at fault, this is a big mistake. Even if the other driver gives you their accurate information, they can later claim that they weren’t at fault, and it will become a case of your word versus theirs.

Getting a police report is the easiest way to protect yourself.

If you got in a car accident on private property, you can call the police, but they won’t be able to take an accident report. If the other person involved refuses to take the blame for the accident and get your damage fixed by their insurance, your only option will be to file a legal claim.

Document Damage

Even if you are filing a police report, it’s a smart idea to document the damage on your own as well.

Take pictures of your car, the other involved vehicle or vehicles, the surrounding area, and any obstacles that might have been involved, such as debris in the road. These may come in handy when dealing with insurance companies.

Its also a good idea to get the other drivers’ names and insurance information, as well as the name and phone number of the police officer who is filing the report. Your insurance company might want some of this info, and it will also come in handy if you have questions for the officer later on.

If You are Denied Compensation for the Fender Bender, Get Help.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, you deserve compensation from the person responsible. Whether you need to have your car repaired, compensation for the time you had to take off work, or coverage for injuries, the responsible driver and their insurance company has to pay.

If you are having trouble getting compensation or you think it may be less than you deserve, its time to get help. Contact us today to see how we can help you after a fender bender or other car accident.