Being in a car crash is dangerous, but what many don't realize is that the danger doesn't end just because the crash is over.
According to the CDC, almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed by cars in 2017. The CDC also estimates that an additional 137,000 pedestrians went to the emergency room for nonfatal car crash-related injuries. The last thing you need after you've been in a car accident is to be hit by another car!
There are ways to protect yourself at the scene of the accident though. To help you stay safe, it's important to follow these steps:
- Check yourself and others for injuries, and call 911 immediately if someone needs help.
- Stay in the car as much as possible, particularly on busy roads.
- Turn on your hazard lights and put out road flares or caution triangles if you have them.
- Exit the vehicle on the curbside of the street, even if it means crawling through the car to do it.
- Move your car out of traffic and to a safer location.
The trickiest of these tips can be moving your car to a safer place, so let’s take a look at some additional steps for relocating it safely. If you have more questions or need help, don’t forget you’re not alone. An Accident.com attorney can help you along the way.
Safety First, but Document Evidence If You Can
Staying safe should always be your number one priority. If you’re in the middle of a highway or a busy intersection, getting to safety should be your only focus. However, if you’re on a less-trafficked road and can safely take a few minutes to document the crash site, you should do so.
Start with taking photos of the scene as-is, before you move car parts and tamper with evidence. However, as always, be careful of other vehicles on the road. These drivers don't know what happened in your crash, and they don't know where the hazards are.
Follow pedestrian traffic laws (like obeying crosswalk signals) as much as possible when you're walking around to get photos. While dealing with a car accident is certainly a unique situation, other drivers are less likely to hit you if you act in a way they expect pedestrians to behave. Acting with caution helps you protect yourself from another accident. As a rule of thumb, remember: At no time should you risk your own safety to photograph the car accident scene.
If there are areas you can't safely reach, wait for police officers and emergency responders. They can redirect traffic, making it safer for you to be a pedestrian in that area. Because they can help with traffic, it's a good idea to call 911 after a crash even if no one needs an ambulance. The police will also interview everyone and write their own summary about what happened, which can help your attorney win your case.
Move Your Car Out of the Way
If there aren't any injuries, police require that drivers move any car involved in the accident if it slows the flow of traffic. However, you don't want to move the vehicle if it's not safe to do so. After documenting the scene, try to move your car out of the way if it's still drivable.
You may be able to move your car onto the far side of a shoulder or onto a less-traveled part of the road. Don't drive farther than necessary though, as it could be considered "fleeing the scene." (Fleeing the scene is against the law.) The goal is to just move you and your vehicle to safety without destroying the evidence the police need to write a report about what happened.
If your car will not drive but is still safe to move, try placing it in neutral and pushing it to a safer location. Pushing the vehicle is only an option if you have two people — one person to push and another to sit in the driver’s seat, watch for other traffic, signal, steer and brake as needed. Be aware of your own safety when attempting to move your vehicle. Also, if you have to interact with another party to move your car, be sure to limit your conversation. Anything you say could hurt your case, potentially holding you liable for the crash.
If your car is too badly damaged to move at all or if there's some other safety concern, leave it alone. 911 operators will ask whether you need a tow truck, and emergency responders will move your vehicle for you.
If you can do so safely, pick up any large pieces from your crash, like fenders or chunks of glass. This type of debris can pose a hazard to other motorists, potentially causing another crash or damage to their vehicle.
Be careful when handling debris from the crash though, as it may be sharp.
Get Some Professional Help
Car accidents can be stressful. Sometimes, the stress takes so much of your focus that your brain may not process any pain signals right after the crash. This problem is called “stress-induced analgesia” and means you may not feel the pain of your injuries until you’re in a less stressful environment (after you leave the scene). So, even if you don't feel pain right away, see a doctor just to be safe.
Then contact Accident.com and connect with a personal injury attorney. After a crash, you may be in significant pain, unable to work or dealing with vehicle repair. A personal injury attorney will bring your claim against the at-fault party and their insurance company, and you can focus on getting back to your life. Reach out today before time runs out to pursue your claim.