According to the CDC, there are over two million car accidents a year in the US.
In many cases, those involved are not at fault, as there are a wide variety of causes or triggers for these incidents. As such, it’s important that you know what to do – both immediately following the accident and in the days and weeks that follow.
This way, you can prioritize your recovery and move on instead of letting the accident haunt you.
Of course, the very first thing you should do in the wake of an accident is to get yourself to a place of safety, where you can then offer assistance to others and contact the relevant authorities. However, your journey does not stop there.
In this article, we’ll discuss the steps you should follow in the aftermath of your accident to protect your well-being, finances and more.
Make your health a priority.
Many of those involved in a car accident sustain some kind of injury. Therefore, not only is it vital that you seek medical assistance right away, but you must also be sure to prioritize your recovery moving forward.
For example, if you are required to take some time off work due to your injury, it is normal to want to find a way to recover faster. Alternatively, you may be tempted to disregard your pain or symptoms, pretending that you feel fine. While this could mean that you’re back at work again right away, you are putting unnecessary strain on your body and will only extend the recovery process. It could even lead to the injury getting worse!
Therefore, you must make your health your #1 priority during this time. Follow all of the instructions given to you by healthcare professionals, whether you’re encouraged to rest or try physical therapy, and don’t try to cut corners.
You should also take care of your mental health during this time, especially as many of those involved in roadside accidents deal with increased anxiety levels after the fact.
If you will be involved in some kind of court or legal proceedings following the accident, it’s crucial that you gather the relevant evidence to support your claim. This will help you to protect your best interests moving forward.
While there are many different forms of evidence you can gather during this time (that are specific to the accident itself), it could include some of the following:
- Medical Documentation (Hospital admission reports, medical reports, prescriptions, treatment plans)
- Proof of Accident. (Photographs and video footage, witness statement, first responder reports).
- Financial Records (Proof of loss of income, medical bills, etc.)
Contact a lawyer.
Once you’ve gathered the relevant evidence to support your claim, it’s time to reach out to a local car accident lawyer who will be able to take on your case. While the legal landscape can be both confusing and overwhelming, having an experienced professional fighting your corner will make the world of difference. For example, they’ll be able to explain the entire process to you in as much (or as little) detail as you’d like so that you have a clear understanding of what to expect moving forward.
They will also work with your best interests so that you can receive the highest amount of compensation possible. This can help you to recoup many of the expenses you incurred during this time, such as:
- A loss of income caused by taking time off/away from work
- Car repair costs (or replacement costs if you need to look into buying a new car)
- Ongoing medical bills and expenses, including prescription fees.
Remember, in these cases, it’s not only your financial burden taken into account. The professionals involved will also look into the other ways in which you’ve been impacted by the accident, such as the changes it brought to your daily life or your mental health.
Of course, the legal process can also take some time, depending on your location and the complexity of the case – but your lawyer will be able to manage your expectations regarding this, letting you know when you should expect to reach an outcome.
Return to driving slowly.
One of the biggest hurdles that many people involved in accidents face when returning to normalcy is getting back behind the wheel again. After all, it’s easy to hold onto the negative feelings surrounding the accident, meaning that you may begin to feel anxious when driving, even if you’re a relatively experienced, safe driver.
The easiest way to combat this is to take your time. Do not feel pressured to get back into driving right away, even if your work depends on it. Your mental health and well-being are far more important, and you need to address your feelings instead of trying to bury them.
When you do feel ready to get back into driving, start with short drives in familiar spaces – such as to the local shops or a friend’s house. Then, gradually increase the amount of time you spend behind the wheel until you feel everything return to normalcy.
If you are still struggling with your mental health during this time, you may want to consider reaching out to or speaking with a therapist. They will help you to find a healthy way to process your complicated feelings and emotions so that they no longer have control over you and you’re able to move on.
Stay safe on the road.
Moving forward, you should (obviously) ensure that you stay safe on the road by being hyper-vigilant and aware of the potential hazards that surround you. You should also avoid driving outside of optimal conditions where possible – such as in heavy rain or stormy conditions.
You should also ensure that you avoid potential distractions when driving. This will help to give you greater peace of mind, helping restore some of your lost roadside confidence while also ensuring that you protect not only your own safety but that of those around you, too.