Anytime you are involved in a traffic accident or collision you can experience fear, confusion and disorientation. So much happens in such a short amount of time that it is normal for you to feel overwhelmed and even experience a sense of disbelief.
However, there are some very practical and easy steps you can follow after a car accident that will help your safety and wellbeing directly after the incident, as well as in the long run.
1. Take an Inventory of your Situation and Call for Help
First and foremost, immediately after an accident, you should assess yourself and the situation. Are you hurt or injured that you can feel? Is there blood? Is your car in a dangerous position near traffic or in a position that there might be a second collision? What type of damage do you have to your vehicle? Are other people involved and are they hurt or injured? If someone else is injured it is important to help them as soon as possible.
Once you have quickly assessed the situation, it is important to call 911 and ask for police and an ambulance if anyone was hurt. Regardless of the size of the incident it is crucial for the authorities to review the situation and file an official report. Having an official report will be vital in dealing with insurance companies and any future legal issues.
2. Collect all Necessary Details and Information
It is important to write down the other involved party’s information. This includes their insurance information including the name of their insurance provider, the policy number, the companies phone number, the model of the car, their driver’s license number and their license plate number. Don’t forget to get the other driver’s phone number, address, and name.
If you have a camera or camera phone, make sure to take pictures of the exterior parts of your car and the surrounding area. In case of a collision, it is best to take a separate photo for each damaged car part. Most people often do not notice their headlight being damaged. It is also best to install accessories that can help you during accidents. Sedan cars like Subaru have built-in accident assist accessories that owners can take advantage of to avoid any accidents.
Although the police will do this, it is very helpful to have access to the photos yourself, instead of having to go through the police to obtain them. Once insurance companies become involved, there will be an investigation about who or what caused the car accident.
3. Be Evaluated Medically
This is a crucial step that you might overlook and regret later. Regardless of how minute an injury may seem, it is important to get it looked at by a medical professional. This is a time of high levels of adrenaline and stress, which often make it difficult to focus on your health. But it still should be a main priority. Getting checked out at urgent care is quick and easy and will let you know if you experienced a serious injury.
Find out what the statute of limitations for seeking medical attention is in your state. It could be only a short time. According to Hammack Law, an accident attorney in Greenville, South Carolina, “You should pay attention to the statute of limitations for seeking medical attention in your state.” For example, in South Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury is three years from discovery, or within a reasonable amount of time that a discovery should have been made.
4. Open Up About What Happened
It is very important for you to talk to someone about your experience involving the car accident. Family, friends, members of the clergy or a licensed counselor are all wonderful people to talk to about what happened, how you felt and feel presently, what you remember doing and saying when the accident occurred and what you have been thinking about and doing since the accident.
By keeping the communication channels open and talking about how you were and are affected, you will be able help this possibly traumatic event from having a negative effect on your mental and physical health, as well as your overall sense of wellbeing.
5. Return to Your Routines and Activities
Traffic accidents can often cause a sense of fear or hesitation. However, it is important for you to go back to your daily schedules and life. This is a crucial part of the healing process even if you might feel scared or overwhelmed at first. Those feelings will dissipate, eventually, if you focus and concentrate on getting back into the swing of your daily routines.
6. Practice being a Defensive Driver
Getting back behind the wheel after an accident can be scary, but by driving defensively you can decrease your chances of any further accidents. Always wear your safety belt and be cautious when driving. Always drive well-rested, and do your best to not drive if you’re drowsy.
Never get behind the wheel if you have alcohol in your system or have taken any medications or drugs that alter your judgement. Also eliminate any and all distractions while driving including texting, talking on the phone, or eating while you’re driving. Taking the time to make sure you are always driving aware, focused, and attentively is the best way to feel safe again behind the wheel after a car accident. If driving after a traumatic car accident feels overwhelming or difficult, begin with small outings. Try just driving around the block at first. Then try driving a bit further. Also, in the beginning, try driving familiar routes that you are used to driving often. Driving to your local grocery store, your favorite park or a child’s school are all great steps. Making small steps toward being able to get out on the road on a long drive is progress.
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