Important steps to take after a car crash

Preparing for a crash may save you a lot of hassle if the unexpected occurs. This includes knowing what information to get and what to say to other drivers.

Almost nobody leaves the house expecting to be in a car accident. Unfortunately, there is a good chance that just about every driver or passenger will end up in a collision at some point during their lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 924 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in Illinois in 2014. Many more accidents injured people or resulted in property damage.

Whether a car crash caused serious injuries or was merely a fender bender, it is important to know the proper steps to protect against further injuries or accusations of liability after a collision. The following tips on what to do after an accident are provided by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

What are the ways to be safe immediately after an accident?

If an accident occurs in the middle of a street, drivers are at risk of a secondary crash from oncoming traffic. It is important to get the vehicles out of the way, if possible, such as moving to the shoulder of the road. If a car is disabled, occupants should stay out of traffic. When exiting the vehicle, it is safest to go to the sidewalk or shoulder and wait for law enforcement.

If there are serious injuries, an ambulance should be called immediately. Those choosing not to be treated right away should see a doctor as soon as possible, since it may take several days for injury symptoms to show up.

How can I protect my legal and financial interests?

The police should be called after a collision, no matter how minor the crash seemed. Law enforcement is trained to help determine how the accident occurred, which may help later in a legal case. It is also useful to get the other driver's insurance information, as well as to take pictures of the crash scene and obtain witness information.

Drivers should be careful not to admit fault after a crash. A seemingly simple statement like "I'm sorry" can be seen as an admission of guilt. The only things that should be signed in relation to the incident are police statements and documentation for the insurance company. It is also wise to remain at the scene of the crash, if possible, as long as authorities and others involved in the accident are there.

Can I prepare ahead of time in case of a crash?

It is always smart to think ahead and anticipate an accident, no matter how unpleasant the thought. Therefore, a vehicle that is stocked with emergency flares, accident cones and a first aid kid is one that is prepared for a fender bender. In addition to the standard insurance and registration information, it can also help to include copies of each family member's medical information in the glove compartment. This could include the name and phone number of the family doctor, as well as any health conditions and allergies to medications that emergency personnel would need to know.

Chicago residents who are prepared and understand the steps to take after a collision may find it easier to recover from the stress of the situation in the weeks to follow. It may also be beneficial to speak with a personal injury attorney if someone was hurt.