man driving a vehicle

What to do After a Car Accident?

November 2, 2023

Experiencing a car accident, whether it's a minor scrape or a major collision, can be overwhelming - especially when it comes to understanding fault. After all, going through a car accident can have major financial implications on your life - not only may you be unable to work due to your injuries, but you may also have to worry about repairing your damaged vehicle.

So, what do you do in the aftermath of a car accident? From keeping calm to ensuring everyone’s safety, we’ve outlined all the steps to take - in order - below. Let’s take a look.

What to Do After a Car Accident: First Steps

The first few moments after an accident can be incredibly disorienting, but you’re going to want to ensure your own safety before worrying about anything else.If it's safe to do so and doesn't exacerbate injuries, move your vehicle out of traffic - if you can't move the vehicles, switch on your hazard lights to alert other road users. Now, check yourself for injuries - scrapes, head injuries, fractures and broken bones are all common car accident injuries, but you may also experience cognitive symptoms such as brain fog, memory loss, and sluggishness. These symptoms - especially when paired with a headache - may be signs of a concussion, so always make sure to seek out medical aid.

Next, make sure everyone is okay. Check on your own passengers, and then, if circumstances allow, approach the other vehicle (or vehicles, if it was a multi-vehicle accident) involved. If anyone is injured, appears unresponsive, or if there's significant damage preventing you from checking on the other passengers, it's absolutely crucial to call the emergency services (999) immediately. When speaking to first responders, explain the accident as best you can - without assigning blame - and wait for the ambulances and fire engines to arrive.

Medical Attention

Following the initial shock, it might be tempting to downplay any discomfort or injury, but it's vital to prioritise your health. Even if you don't feel pain immediately, injuries such as whiplash or internal harm might only become noticeable hours or even days after the accident. For this reason, it's highly recommended to seek medical attention after a crash, even if only for a precautionary check-up.

Remember, the documentation from a medical professional can be invaluable should you decide to pursue a non fault accident claim - if you end up noticing injuries later on but don’t have any documentation proving they were the result of the accident, you might not be able to claim them on your insurance.

Legal and Insurance Considerations

Once you’ve ensured everyone’s safety, it’s important to think about the legal aspect of your crash - most specifically, insurance, and whether or not you’ll be able to file a non fault accident claim.

Understanding Liability: Who's at Fault?

Determining fault in a car accident isn't always straightforward: sometimes, both parties may share the blame, while factors such as adverse weather, roadworks, or even animals could be at blame. Regardless of who’s at fault, it’s important to note that in the UK, it's crucial not to admit liability at the scene, even if you believe you're at fault. There may be factors you aren't aware of, and admitting fault can complicate insurance claims or legal proceedings later on.

Contacting Your Insurance Company

After ensuring everyone's safety and seeking any necessary medical attention, it's important to consider the insurance implications and for this, you might be wondering: "what insurance details do I give in an accident in the UK?" Typically, you should exchange names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, and insurance company details with the other driver.

Usually, if someone crashes into your car and is at fault, their insurance should cover the damage both to your vehicle and theirs. However, notifying your own insurer about the incident is crucial, even if you're not at fault.

Documenting the Accident

In the digital age, most people have a smartphone or camera close at hand, making it easier to document the aftermath of an accident. Photographs provide tangible evidence of the scene, vehicle positions, and any damages sustained, and you can capture wide shots to show the entire scene, as well as close-ups of specific damages or relevant road signs and markings. If there were any witnesses, politely ask for their contact information; their testimony might become invaluable if there are disputes regarding how the accident occurred.

But don’t forget that documenting isn't solely about photographs! You’ll also want to take notes about the incident while it's fresh in your mind: describe the weather conditions, the state of the road, the sequence of events leading up to the crash, and any other potentially relevant details. This can be particularly helpful when recounting the incident to your insurance company or if a legal issue arises.

Aftermath and Recovery

Recovery after a car accident isn't solely physical; it's also emotional and psychological. The trauma of an accident can sometimes manifest in unexpected ways, such as an aversion to driving or heightened anxiety on the road. It's essential to recognise these feelings and consider seeking professional help if they begin to interfere with your day-to-day life.

In addition to emotional recovery, you'll also need to consider the practical steps of repairing or replacing your vehicle. If you're pursuing a non fault accident claim, your insurance might cover the costs of a courtesy car while yours is being repaired, so it can be helpful to familiarise yourself with your policy details to understand what's covered.

Key Takeaways

A car accident, no matter how minor, is always going to be an overwhelming event, but the steps you take in the immediate aftermath can influence not only the safety of those involved but also the efficiency of the recovery and claims process. By ensuring you prioritise safety, get the necessary medical attention, properly document the scene, and navigate the insurance and recovery process effectively, you'll be better prepared to deal with any future incidents on the road. And, always remember, driving safely and attentively is the best preventative measure of all.