A car crash can be a life-altering experience. At the very least, it rattles us for a short while after.

From anxiety and shock to anger and relief, car accidents put us through a rainbow’s worth of emotions. While these situations can be tough to deal with, especially if you sense that you were injured, calmer heads often prevail. 

Let’s say you were injured but couldn’t feel any initial pain? A jolt of movement out of anger toward the other driver could lead to an even worse injury. Slow and deliberate actions are necessary after a motor vehicle accident.

Other than raging toward the other driver, which frequently happens on roadways across America, what actions should you avoid after a car accident?

1. Avoid a hit and run

First off, if you can get your car to the side of the road, do so. Trying to inspect your vehicle in the middle of traffic only adds to the danger. 

Secondly, no matter the severity of the crash, the law requires you and the other driver to stop, check on the vehicles and the other party, exchange insurance information and report the accident to law enforcement. Avoiding these steps is breaking the law and could lead to fines and more severe penalties depending on the circumstances of the crash.

2. Avoid forgetting or neglecting to call 911

Reporting the accident has many advantages, like acting as a safeguard if the other driver doesn’t have insurance or is carrying a fake or expired insurance card. If you don’t report the incident, shake hands and agree to let the insurance companies sort out the details, you’ll be out of luck and stuck with the bill if the other driver lied about their insurance. A gentleman’s agreement doesn’t always cut it.

Also, without an official report of the accident, your only proof is what you recorded. Any evidence is beneficial, but that may only get you so far in the eyes of the insurance company. Remember, even though you pay for car insurance, insurance companies don’t like to provide payouts.

3. Avoid leaving without getting the proper information

This step is ultimately where cooler and less frazzled heads gain an advantage. You have the right and will likely be in an anxious state directly after a car accident, but if possible, attempt to regain your composure. Doing so will help you recall the events of the accident when reporting it to police, your car insurance company, and others. You will likely have to tell the same story several times, and consistency is critical.

Additionally, you’ll need to collect the following information.

  • Driver’s name
  • Address
  • Insurance company name
  • Policy number
  • Evidence of the crash
    • Vehicle makes, models, license plate numbers and colors
    • Names and phone numbers of witnesses
    • Photos and or videos of the damage

Yes, this seems like a lot of work directly after a car accident, but to put yourself in the best position, you must do your due diligence. Sometimes, car rashes result in severe injury, and without proper representation, the at-fault driver gets off scot-free, you lose wages and will have to overcome mounting medical debt.