Car crashes can be minor annoyances if you’ve been in a fender bender, but they can also quickly become life-altering tragedies if someone is killed or seriously injured.

If you are involved in a crash, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with emotion and stress, which can make it difficult to remember how to proceed in the immediate aftermath. However, it’s important to think as clearly as possible to protect your physical and financial well-being.

Remember your crash checklist

There are essential steps to take immediately after a wreck, including:

  • Call 911: Call authorities and describe the situation and extent of injuries to yourself or others in as much detail as possible. Even if no one is injured, call the police so an accident report can be filed. Don’t admit guilt, even if you believe the crash is your fault.
  • Assess damage: If you are in the middle of a busy street and your vehicle is drivable, carefully move it to the side of the road. However, if you smell gasoline, move away from the car and do not attempt to move it to another location. The same is true if you see excessive fluid leakage near the front of the vehicle.
  • Exchange information: Always get the names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information from all drivers involved. Likewise, detail the makes, models and license plates of the cars involved. If someone offers you cash instead of calling the police, do not accept it as that could cause you to miss out on insurance payments, and it will be your word against theirs. Do not communicate with the other party except to get their personal and insurance information.
  • Take pictures: Get photos of the damage to all vehicles and document the location where the crash took place. Make sure you get pictures of all four sides of each car, and you can also take photos of driver’s licenses, license plates and insurance policies.
  • Call insurance company: Relay the information you’ve collected from the other driver or drivers and provide the most accurate accounting while the accident is still fresh in your mind. Once you report the crash, your insurer will review photos, the police report and witness statements.

Contact a personal injury attorney

If any injuries occur as the result of a crash, it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney here in New Jersey. Your lawyer will see that your interests are protected against false claims, or inaccurate police reports, especially if they determine the crash is your fault.