Motor vehicle accidents happen all the time. When you have the unfortunate luck of getting into a motor vehicle accident, you are sure to experience a feeling of panic that gets your heart pumping fast. While this is a normal reaction when you get into an accident, it is important to stay calm to avoid further complications. Here are some important steps to take to effectively handle a motor vehicle accident:

Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Area

If possible, you should move your vehicle off the road to an area you feel is safe. If you are not injured, and your vehicle is still in operating condition, move your car out of harm’s way. If you can’t move your car to a safe area, be sure to put your hazard lights on. This will warn other drivers that your vehicle will not be moved, and they should slow down and drive with extra precaution.

Bring Your Vehicle to a Complete Stop

Be sure your car has come to a complete stop. Shift your vehicle into park and turn off the engine. If you drive a manual shift, be sure to apply the emergency brake. Take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves. Check to see if it is safe to get out of your vehicle, then get out and move to a safe place. Many people carry emergency bags in their cars in case they are involved in a motor vehicle accident. If it’s safe, place flares or other road safety markers around your vehicle.

Check on Your Passengers

Carefully check on the other passengers in your vehicle. Once you have determined that no one is seriously injured, check on the others involved in the motor vehicle accident. Are all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe? Call 911 to report the accident and notify them if anyone is injured. Even minor symptoms should be evaluated by a health care professional.

Request Police to the Scene of the Motor Vehicle Accident

Regardless of how serious or minor the motor vehicle accident may be, the police should be contacted. This will help verify that the scene is safe to leave and that you have all you need to report the accident to your insurance company. Let the police evaluate the scene. Avoid admitting fault before it is determined by a professional who was responsible for the motor vehicle accident.

Gather Important Information

Before you leave the scene, be sure to gather all the important information you need about the other party involved in the accident. Get all drivers and passengers’ names. Takedown their license plate number and make and model of the vehicle. Record the contact information of any eyewitnesses on the scene. Document the location of the accident. Takedown the name and badge number of any police officers that responded to the scene. Finally, gather all insurance information of the other persons involved in the motor vehicle accident. Takedown their policy number, insurance company information including phone number, and the exact name of those listed on the policy.

Document the Scene

If you have a phone, take images of the cars involved in the motor vehicle accident and the area where it occurred. This can come in handy when dealing with insurance companies during the claim process. Begin a file that holds all photos and documentation regarding the accident.

Regardless of your driving record, motor vehicle accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Be sure you know what steps to take to keep yourself and your passengers safe in the unfortunate event of an accident. Emergency responders will arrive at the scene and ensure you are safe and the accident is cleaned up to avoid further problems for other drivers.