If you are on your way home from work and you find yourself in a fender bender, do not lose your cool. A lot of people get into rush hour accidents. The Utah Highway Patrol says it is their busiest time of day. Keep your wits about you, and treat it like any other accident after you do your best to get out of the roadway.
Take a Deep Breath and Assess the Situation
If you have just heard the tell-tale crunch of metal and felt the snap of your neck after an automobile collision, the first thing you need to do is to stay calm. You are going to need your brain and composure to get you through these next steps.
Take a deep breath, look around you, and determine what is going on. If you are driving, look at your passengers, and figure out which way is up.
Move to Safety Soon After the Rush Hour Accident
Now that you know which way is up, try to move to safety. If you are pinned inside the vehicle, just hold tight until emergency personnel arrives on the scene. If you can drive the vehicle, move the car from the roadway onto the shoulder or a nearby parking lot, so that you are no longer in the path of traffic. You may not be able to move. Just do the best you can.
This step is especially important on the interstate. People are driving fast, and traffic can back-up quickly. Move to the shoulder or an exit if possible. Standing around after a rush hour accident can be dangerous because vehicles traveling at freeway speeds can hit your stopped vehicle or your person. Do your best, but be especially careful.
Take Stock of Possible Injuries
Once you are in a place of safety, check to see if you are injured in a way you may not have noticed before. Check your passengers. Take a moment to check on any children that may be with you. Look for blood, and administer first aid.
Once you are safe and not bleeding to death, report your rush hour accident to the authorities. You may not want to, but it is in your best interests to do so. (LINK TO ARTICLE FROM LAST MONTH ABOUT REPORTING ACCIDENTS).
Wait for the Authorities
Do not leave the scene of an accident before the police officer or state trooper arrives at the scene. It is illegal to do so, and it is not wise from a personal injury perspective. Always obey the rules. Do not admit fault for the accident or apologize for the accident. If you can, stay inside your vehicle and wait for help.
Cooperate with Police
Once officers arrive on the scene, answer their questions honestly. Provide any documents they ask for, and if you get a ticket do not challenge the officer at the scene of the accident.
If your accident is rather minor, and the police officers or state troopers are busy, they may tell you the damage is not worth filing a police report over. In that case, drive your vehicles off the freeway to a safe parking lot on a surface street and exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver just to be safe.
Go to the Hospital
Any time you are involved in an accident, please see a medical provider: your regular doctor, an urgent care facility, or an emergency room the same day as the accident. LINK TO WHY PROMPT MEDICAL TREATMENT IS IMPORTANT AND WHEN MINOR ACCIDENTS AREN’T MINOR AND WHIPLASH ARTICLE
Call your Insurance Agent
Your car insurance policy will require you to report any accident to them within 24 hours. It is a good idea to contact your insurance agent as soon as possible after the accident as you can,
Contact an Attorney
If you think that you were not at fault for the rush hour accident, and that you may need help navigating the post-accident process, contact an attorney. An attorney can also help you with vehicle repairs, medical treatment, and other compensation. Attorneys from The Advocates are available 24-7 for a free consultation.
These are the steps State Farm says to take after an accident:
What not to do: