Legal Guide

Accidents Hurt: 5 Key Points to Remember When You are Involved in a Traffic Accident

A traffic accident is no time and place to come up with a plan on what you need to do next – ideally, you should take a little bit of time and prepare a a step-by-step action plan in advance. In the midst of chaos, thinking gets really hard, and more often than not, you’ll have your survival instinct kicking in. Panicking is not entirely out of the question either, but knowing exactly what to do will make it much more likely that you’ll be able to stick to the plan you’ve outlined in your head and reach a favorable resolution.

So how can you make the best out of a tricky situation without losing your good judgment? Here are 5 key points to remember:

  1. Get yourself to safety

Forget the vehicle, forget the witnesses… the very first thing you need to do after regaining consciousness or recovering from the shock is to get yourself to safety as soon as possible. Only start inspecting your vehicle for damage once you’ve made sure that you’re no longer exposed to danger.

But even so, if you’re seriously injured, it may be best to remain in the vehicle, lest you risk causing further injuries to your body. If one of the bones in your leg is broken, for example, putting any weight on it could make the injury worse and cause further medical complications and pain. So try to safely wiggle your arms and legs around a little bit to make sure that nothing is broken. Take all the time when self-diagnosing the state of your health; sometimes, pain is harder to notice because adrenaline is rushing through your veins as a result of sustaining physical trauma.

If you’ve determined that you’re not injured and that you can get out of the vehicle safely, do your best to secure the area by turning on all the hazard lights and setting up a safety triangle. If you can put some safety cones in place, even better.

  1. Document the damage

Do you have a camera with you? Perfect! You can use it to document the scene of the accident and use the photos as proof in court later on (either that, or to show the extent of the damage to the insurance company). No need to worry if you don’t have one available; you can always use the camera in your cellphone, as nowadays, most modern smartphones can make high quality photos.

When taking pictures, make sure to take some from multiple angles, as well as from up close. While at it, make sure to include more than a single picture from a given angle; sometimes, some of them don’t turn out the way you had planned (they can be blurry, for example), so it’s best to avoid this by snapping a picture multiple times. After all, you can always remove the bad ones at a later time.

Finally, take pictures of your injuries if you’ve sustained any. This is what many people forget to do, but it can make all the difference if you’re ever summoned to court and asked to provide the necessary proof. If it ever comes to this, hiring a reputable traffic accident lawyer like Andy Citrin or a well-known law firm to represent you can make all the difference between a favorable outcome and a total disaster.

  1. Gather the witnesses

If you’re not too exhausted or injured, it might be a good idea to gather everyone who has witnessed the events that transpired. If nothing else, at least make sure to collect their phone numbers or learn of other ways you can get in touch.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that their attorney will take care of this, so they don’t worry about it. Well, it’s important to tend to your own injuries and get yourself to safety first, so much is true. But if at all possible, you should also do your best to gather the witnesses and their contact details yourself. After all, your attorney may have to jump through many hoops to identify and get in touch with them later, and it’s not given that finding them will be possible at all.

  1. Call for help

In case anyone has been injured, you need to call the ambulance first. If you have the necessary first aid training, you can even attempt to help some of the victims yourself to make sure they’ll make it until the ambulance arrives.

The next step is to call the police. This will ensure that everything will play out according to the law and that no one will attempt to flee from the scene before filing a police report. Some people are comfortable filing the report themselves, and in case of minor traffic accidents, this is a suitable route to take. However, if someone has been injured as a result of a traffic accident or if there are any disagreements, it’s better to wait until the police arrive.

  1. Take notes

After an accident, your body and brain will likely be in a state of shock, and as long as you’re under the influence of its effects, your memory won’t function as well as it otherwise would. As a result of this, you could very well end up forgetting some essential details later on when it’s going to be crucial for you to remember them.

Therefore, writing it all down while your memory is still fresh can be a very smart move to make, if the circumstances of the scene allow for it. Don’t try to take notes if you haven’t ensured your own safety first or if someone in your vicinity is in need of medical assistance – prioritizing is key.

Apart from that, make sure you’ve identified the driver of the vehicle that crashed into your own and that you’ve written down their license plate number.


Having a traffic accident is surely not something anyone can ever hope to experience, but if it does happen, it’s entirely manageable by following the tips we’ve outlined above. Make sure to re-read the main points and go over them in your mind a couple of times. That way, you’ll know it all by heart and won’t lose precious moments when disaster strikes and it’s time to act.

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