Unfortunately, most of us will probably be involved in a car accident at some point. I’ve been in a couple myself. Though you may not be able to guess exactly how you’ll react to a crash, knowing what to expect can make this unpleasant experience less overwhelming.
What to Do Immediately After the Wreck
Take a few deep breaths to process what’s happened. Once you’re ready, take the following steps:
- Check to see if anyone is hurt. This includes yourself, your passengers, and anyone in the other vehicle. If anyone has been seriously injured, call 911.
- Stay on the scene. Take note of the other vehicle’s make and model, and record the license plate number if you can.
- Keep yourself safe. If your car is stopping traffic or is otherwise in a dangerous place, pull to the nearest parking lot or roadside. Turn off your engine and turn on your hazards.
- Document the accident. Exchange insurance information and take a picture of any damage if possible. Notify the appropriate authorities and stay on the scene until they arrive. It is important to have an accurate police report made – especially if you are not at fault. The police report documents the at-fault party.
- Go home and rest. Then, as soon as you’re able, call your insurance company to notify them of the accident.
Coping with an accident isn’t just about nursing physical injuries. Your mental health is equally important. Once your doctor clears you for normal activity, check-in with yourself.
You may feel a mix of emotions, from shock and disbelief to anger or guilt. Don’t hesitate to share the experience with loved ones or a professional counselor. If you’re still having trouble feeling comfortable behind the wheel after a few weeks, consider taking a defensive driving course.
Even minor accidents can have serious effects, so give yourself time to recover and ask for help when needed.