Whether you’re in a minor fender bender or a major pileup, being in a car wreck can be confusing, aggravating and downright scary. Chances are, you were never taught in a driver’s ed class what to do in the event of an accident, and instead rely on what others tell you to make sure everything is taken care of. Unfortunately, doing so can be disastrous in the long run.

Unless you’ve been in a car wreck before, it’s nearly impossible to actually prepare yourself for one. But, remembering these 5 steps can make the entire process a bit smoother–and safer.

1. Breathe, Relax and Assess

Even if you aren’t prone to panic attacks, the reality of a car accident can cause high levels of crippling anxiety. After an accident, take a deep breath (or at least as deep as possible, if you’ve injured your ribs). Check yourself for injuries, then check on any passengers in your vehicle. If you are relatively uninjured and you can safely do so, exit your vehicle and check on passengers in the other car. Ask if they are okay, but DO NOT APOLOGIZE. Call 911 and explain what has happened.

2. Don’t Say More Than You Need To

Remember that thing about not apologizing? North Carolinians have a knack for being courteous, but this is not the time for such manners. Saying sorry can easily be construed as admitting fault. Likewise, you don’t want to brush off your own injuries. Saying something like “I’m fine” should also be avoided. Unless you have been examined by a medical professional, you have no idea if you’re fine. This goes for talking to the other driver, as well as any police that show up.

3. Gather Ye Evidence While Ye May

When the police show up, they will likely take a report. Only give facts for the report, never your opinion on why the accident happened. Then, be sure to get a copy of the report once it is filed. While you are on the scene, take photos of the road conditions, the surrounding area, damage to both vehicles and any evident injuries. If possible, take a photo of the other driver’s license, so they can’t later claim they weren’t involved in the accident. If they refuse, try to sneak a picture of the driver themselves.

4. Call Your Insurance Agent

If your accident involved property damage or bodily harm (read: nearly every accident), your insurance provider needs to know about it. Even if you were not at fault in the accident, your insurer will need to know about it quickly so they can get started on collecting damages that will be used for car repairs, medical bills and other expenses. Pretty much the only time you wouldn’t call your insurer is if you were in a single-car wreck and you plan on covering all of your bills yourself.

5. Call an Attorney – No, Really Call

Before you roll your eyes and click away, hear us out. If you weren’t at fault, were injured and your insurance doesn’t cover your bills, you can make sure the at-fault driver actually pays for the damage they did. However, part of having a successful claim is not signing any settlement from the other guy’s insurance agency before at least getting a consultation from an attorney.

A few things to know: Most reputable personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. If the one you’re considering doesn’t, they are probably desperate for your money. Also, these kinds of attorneys work on a contingency basis. That means you are charged nothing up front. Their payment comes from a percentage of whatever compensation they recover for you — and if they don’t get you anything, they don’t get paid. So it’s obviously in their best interest to get you as much as possible.

At the very least, if you are presented with a settlement, let an attorney look it over. It’s won’t cost you a dime, and you’ll get the advice you need. The attorneys at Auger and Auger are on your side; they will review your case and offer their advice, even if you don’t hire them. You can find out more about them on their website.


About the guest blogger: Auger and Auger, North Carolina Injury Attorneys

Auger and Auger has been dedicated to exclusively practicing personal injury law and workers’ compensation for over 26 years. The attorneys and legal staff are committed to providing top notch legal services to those who have sustained significant injuries or death. They are experienced in an extensive range of personal injury type claims ranging from auto accidents to dangerous drug litigation. Representing clients all over the state of North Carolina, Auger and Auger has three offices in Charlotte. For more information, visit www.AugerLaw.com.