After a shock, which a car crash unquestionably would be, you may have a hard time thinking clearly and making rational choices. Your best chance of taking the right steps comes from already having a plan in place for that exact emergency scenario.
Just like you need to have a family plan in place for evacuating your home in the event of a fire, so too do you need a plan for the steps you will take if you ever experience a motor vehicle collision. There are many steps that help protect you and the other people in your vehicle after a crash, with the four below being the most universal and important steps to take.
1. Check yourself and others for injuries
In the first moments after the crash, you need to evaluate yourself and the other people in the vehicle for signs of injury. When possible, it is often the best option to exit the vehicle quickly in case of a secondary crash. Other vehicles may not see your disabled vehicles in the road until it is too late, so people typically want to move away from the vehicles until first responders arrive.
2. Document the scene of the crash
If no one seems to have incurred life-threatening injuries that require emergency trauma care, you will likely want to take a few moments to record video and take photographs of the scene of the crash.
Pictures and videos that show the placement of the vehicles in relation to one another rather than just the damage to the vehicles will be the most helpful in case there are questions about the physics of the crash later. After you have documented the damage, you can then move the vehicles if necessary so that traffic can proceed around your vehicles while you wait for the police.
3. Call for services
This may be the second step that you take if you realize that someone in one of the vehicles suffered a severe injury or you are unable to exit your vehicle. Knowing the state of people’s injuries will be necessary during the conversation with a dispatcher. You may need to call the local non-emergency police number in most cases, with 911 typically only being necessary when you need immediate medical assistance.
4. Seek medical evaluation
Although your cursory check right after the crash may have returned no signs of injury, you are not a medical professional. Even if you are, you likely recognize that it is difficult for people to be objective enough to diagnose themselves or their loved ones. Seeing a medical professional after a crash can help you spot the early warning signs of internal bleeding or brain injuries that may otherwise get worse if they go undiagnosed.
Having a plan for how to act after a motor vehicle collision can help you more effectively protect yourself after a crash.