According to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s 2021 crash report, the state experienced 121,345 crashes in the year, 70% of which resulted in property-only damage and the other 30% in injuries or fatalities.
Whenever an accident occurs, the people involved must react. Their reaction time can save lives and prevent further injuries and damage. Prior knowledge of how to respond after a freeway accident is crucial for being proactive on the scene.
11 Steps To Take After a Freeway Accident
After a collision, your brain enters a state of “fight-or-flight,” flooding your body with adrenaline and other hormones to help you defend yourself or run away. It is a primitive response, and it can overwhelm rational judgment.
In moments of panic, your brain relies on patterns, habits, and previous knowledge. If you have a reference for how to deal with an accident, your brain can think quickly and even critically, which is why knowing the 11 steps to take after an auto collision is vital.
1. Check for Injuries
You can’t help anyone unless you help yourself first. In the seconds after the freeway accident, check yourself for injuries. If you have passengers, check them out. Also, turn off your vehicle to limit the risks of fire.
If you or your passengers sustained injuries, apply emergency first aid. If everyone in your vehicle is OK, check the driver and passengers of the other car, giving first aid as needed.
2. Move Your Vehicle to Safety
Leaving a vehicle in an active traffic lane can cause more collisions and injuries. It is crucial to move cars out of the roadway if possible. You should pull onto the shoulder or a designated safety area — a rest stop or median is ideal.
If you cannot move your vehicle because of damage, place road flares or other notifications around the scene. An emergency kit should have everything you need.
3. Contact Emergency Services
You should always call the police to report the accident. Depending on the severity of the freeway accident, police may or may not come to the scene. If there is significant property damage or injuries, police and emergency services will respond.
When the police and medical support arrive, do as they instruct. Each driver and all witnesses will give statements to the cops on the scene. Paramedics may want to evaluate you and your passengers to ensure everyone is OK.
4. Avoid Discussions About Blame
Emotions and adrenaline usually run high after a wreck, which can lead to confrontation and altercations. Before you talk to anyone on the scene, take a beat and breathe. Give yourself a moment to collect yourself and calm your nerves.
Remember, immediately after the crash, the priority is to ensure everyone is safe and receiving the care they need. Avoid assigning blame and let cooler heads prevail.
5. Collect Driver and Vehicle Information
After the freeway accident, you must collect the contact and insurance information of the other driver. You may also want to collect details about their vehicle, like the year, make, and model.
In addition, jot down any descriptive details, such as the color, license plate number, bumper stickers, or noticeable imperfections. Your objective is to gather as much information as possible about the driver and their vehicle, making it easier to track them down later, if necessary.
6. Document the Crash Scene (Collect Evidence)
If you sue later, documenting the scene will come in handy. You can use your smartphone to take pictures. When scanning the environment, be sure to capture images of:
- Vehicle damage
- Area condition
- Skid marks
- Traffic signals or signs
Also, take a moment to scan the area for surveillance or doorbell cameras. Video evidence can be crucial to proving liability.
7. Call a Tow (If Needed)
The impact of even minor collisions can cause engine or axle damage, leaving your vehicle undrivable. Call a tow truck to the scene and transport your car to your preferred auto repair shop.
Before calling the tow truck to a freeway accident, wait to talk to the police. It is always best to ask the police how to proceed when moving potential evidence.
8. Call Your Insurance Company
Some people will attempt to negotiate cash deals after a minor accident, trying not to get insurance companies involved. As tempting as cash is, not reporting the accident to your insurer can leave you responsible for damages later.
It is often better to contact a lawyer for help to make sure that you understand your rights, options and the true value of your damages..
9. Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment
You might feel fine after the accident, so that you say no to allowing the paramedics to check you out at the scene. Regardless of how well you feel, however, see a doctor as soon as possible. The adrenaline and other hormones rushing through your body after an accident can mask injury symptoms. Also, some injuries, like whiplash, may not manifest until days after the accident.
For insurance and legal purposes, you must document your injuries and their progress. If possible, visit a medical professional who treats mainly motor vehicle accident injuries.
10. Don’t Leave the Scene
Besides adrenaline, you may experience overwhelming fear after a freeway accident. The feeling may encourage you to flee the scene. Do not leave the scene of an accident. If you do, you are now responsible for a hit and run, which is a serious crime. Stay on the scene and give your statement to the police. Avoid any further legal troubles.
11. Keep Records
Keep all your records of the accident and any follow-up medical visits and treatments in a file. If you decide to sue, the documents, photos, and records will help prove your claim.
Advantages of Contacting an Attorney After a Freeway Accident
After a freeway accident, it isn’t easy to focus on anything but your health and recovery. You likely won’t be in the right state of mind to deal with insurance claims or lawsuits. An attorney can help by acting as your advocate. They will handle insurance talks and coordinate with doctors and other experts to prove your case. Contact Sargon Law Group for a free consultation and learn how they can help.