Do you know what to do after being involved in a car accident?
One moment you are driving along and then, BAM! Your car has been hit. Shock takes over. Your body is frozen. You hear your babies cry and know that you need to take action. Do you know what to do next? It may not be what you think. This information could save your child from further injury after a car accident. As well as equip you with the practical steps everyone should take after a car accident. Follow these tips and download the printable checklist to keep in your vehicle at all times.
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Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or a doctor. I am NOT giving legal or medical advice. I am sharing tips and suggestions based on personal experience and research.
First things first, be prepared.
Before a car accident takes place there are a few things you can do ahead of time to make sure you are prepared.
Be sure to have up to date insurance papers in the vehicle.
Have a copy of the car accident check list and a pen in your glove box.
Keep a car safety hammer in the glove box. These can be used to cut the seat belt if it gets stuck as well as break a window if the door can not be opened.
Have a roadside emergency kit in your vehicle at all times.
(A huge thank you to our readers for sharing their suggestions.)
What to do if you have been involved in a serious car accident:
Ask for an ambulance and a police officer to be sent. Make sure the dispatcher knows where you are. Do not hang up until the dispatcher tell you help is on the way.
Collect important information and take photos
(This information should be collected for both minor and major accidents.)
Driver and passenger names
License plate numbers
Makes and models of all vehicles involved
Contact info for any eyewitnesses
Location of the accident
The name and badge number of any responding police officers
Take photographs of the scene and pictures of the other drivers license and insurance information
If you are unable to collect this information yourself a police officer should have this information in the accident report. Make sure you ask the officer to file a report, do not assume that the officer will file a report.
Get examined by a medical professional ASAP
For insurance purposes you want to make sure you are seen by a medical professional right away. Make sure ALL injuries documented. Directly after the accident your body will be pumping with adrenaline. Because of this you may not feel the extent of your injuries until days or even weeks later.
Call a Lawyer
There is a lot of work that goes into settling a car accident. It can be extremely helpful to have a lawyer to help you navigate the process. As well as an advocate on your behalf. This will also help to ensure that the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you.
Report your accident
Report your accident to your insurance and DMV. If a police officer did not file an accident report you can file one yourself at the police station. An accident report can be helpful when figuring out your claim with insurance.
Don’t post on social media
Wait to post any details about your accident online until after all settlements have been made.
Do not make any statements to insurance until talking to your lawyer
Other than reporting your accident to your insurance company do not make any statements to an insurance agent until AFTER you have talked to an attorney. You should also wait until after the shock has worn off and you have had time to process what happened. Everything you say is documented and can be used against you later on. Do not talk to a representative of another insurance company. Ask them to speak to your lawyer. Your lawyer can then give you direction on how to proceed.
Write down every detail of what happened. Keep track of all injuries no matter how small. Keep all receipts for medical bills and anything else pertaining to the accident. Document your pain and suffering. Keep a record of how your injuries have effected your day to day life.
If your child is with you at the time of the accident you will want to take all of the steps above as well as:
Do not move your child until they are examined by a paramedic
Because of children’s weaker neck muscles the chance for a serious head injury are high. They should be examined right away as well as have a follow up appointment with your family doctor. This is because injuries do not always show up right after a car accident and may reveal themselves later. Offer your child comfort but try your best to keep them still.
Watch for injury symptoms
One of the worst injuries a child can experience is trauma to the head. According to this Kidshealth.org article these are some of the things you will want to keep an eye out for:
Bleeding from the Nose or Mouth
Abnormal Speech or Vision
Lack of Strength
If your child or anyone else involved in the accident is exhibiting these systems you should seek medical attention immediately. Be sure to inform any one that will be caring for your child that they should keep an eye out for these injury symptoms.
Consider replacing your car seat.
This helpful article from Saferide4kids.com says that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends replacing a car seat after a moderate to sever accident. However a car seat may not need replacement in the case of a minor accident.
What is considered a minor accident?
The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
There is no visible damage to the safety seat
In a moderate to severe accident the car seat should be replaced even if the child was not in the seat at the time of the accident. If the force of the accident caused damage to your car made of steel, then you can assume it was strong enough to damage the plastic of a car seat.The good news is that insurance should cover the cost of replacing the car seat. Make sure to keep your receipt for reimbursement.
Make sure you are up to date on car seat safety.
A car accident can be a very traumatic event. Make sure that you take care of yourself and seek proper treatment. Take care of injuries right away before they get worse. Remember, you are more help to your kids by taking care of things right away. Do not ignore your injury symptoms. This can lead to further injury and treatment that could have been avoided.
Have you ever experienced a car accident? Do you have any helpful tips to share the with shortsweetmom community? I would love to hear from you.