When life throws you a semi-truck, 7 things to do immediately after a car accident.

 7 things to do immediately after a car accident

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, as you can probably imagine. I was in a peaceful sleep on a Sunday morning when I rolled over and happened to pick up my phone. This lovely image was staring back at me with just an “so this happened….” message. 

You can imagine the panic that ensued, I jumped out of bed and started frantically texting for a response to “ARE YOU OKAY!?” Women panic, it’s what we do. After what seemed like forever I got a response back that yes, he was not seriously injured, he was in a lot of pain but he was sitting and waiting for a tow truck.

He was hit by a transport truck that followed him into a closed off lane while he was trying to avoid a car that was stopped dead on the highway. The truck that hit him had a full load behind him – and it hit hard enough to jolt him forward even with his foot on the break.

I was scared – though obviously incredibly thankful that 1) he was not injured much worse and 2) that our daughter was not in the car that day.

I don’t chat much about my regular outside of blogging job – but I’m an office coordinator at a wellness center. We deal in car accidents everyday and yet we had never had to deal with one personally.

I knew there were some important steps we needed to take that most times people do not think of –  7 things to do immediately after a car accident:

1) Assess your injuries. Can you wiggle all your toes, move all your fingers? Do you feel immediate pain? Soft tissue injuries can take months to full rear their ugly heads so any pain you may be feeling now will likely intensify over the next couple of weeks. Try to not over do-it and call an ambulance if necessary to be fully checked out by a medical doctor. If you can transport yourself, get in to see your family doctor or walk-in doctor as soon as you are able.

2) Take as many photos at the scene as you can from different angles. If there was another car involved, take photos of both the location of the vehicle, it’s damage and either a photo of the driver or a driver’s license. Try to do this before the vehicles are moved.

3) Exchange information with the other driver – this seems like a no-brainer but we ran into an issue where the driver was not allowed by his company to give us his name, drivers license or any identifying information. We had to rely solely on a piece of paper in a binder with their insurance policy. If you are unsure about someone not giving you their information do not hesitate to write down their license number, grab a photo of them and call 911.

4) Call for back-up. You’ll want to remove anything of value from your vehicle before it’s towed to the tow yard – speaking from experience certain items don’t might not make it back to you. With ICBC, once it’s been transferred to their collision center they will bag up every single item in your car and call you can pick them up. (Edited to add: A reader pointed out this may be considered defamatory – please note we are merely speaking from experience. 3/4 times, items have not made it back to us and while this may not be a widespread issue, we are merely reminding people that once your car is no longer in your possession, the risk certainly heightens that items may be misplaced.)

5) Replace your car seat. I’m pretty active in a lot of mommy groups and the one question I see often is “I was in a car accident, do we really need to replace our seat? It was just a small bump!”. Well, sometimes no, you don’t have to replace your seat HOWEVER… every seat is different. Check your manual, ours specifically said ANY COLLISION our seat needed to be replaced. Some insurance centers allow you to dispose of the seat at their location, if not.. cut the straps of the seat, strip off the cover and put out the base with your recycling or find a local recycling center.

6) Seek treatment. I can’t stress this enough. While your family doctor can send you for X-rays and offer you some great drugs, they can’t help get you back to pre-accident status. You’ll need the help of a Chiropractor, Massage Therapist or Physiotherapist – or in some cases a combination of the 3. In BC, they’ve unrolled a Flat Fee program from ICBC where there is no out of pocket cost to the client to help alleviate some of the financial stress. If you don’t have the program where you are – time to make sure of those insurance benefits.

And lastly.

7) Once you’re home and hopefully having seen a doctor – start checking your insurance. Some credit cards, BCAA and other road side programs will qualify you for assistance in renting a vehicle while you wait for word on yours. If you choose to not rent a vehicle, hold onto any applicable receipts for taxies/bus to be reimbursed.

It’s pretty common after a car accident to have a bit of a brain fog – especially when you have whiplash. If you don’t feel like you can focus enough to sit and write down a journey of what happened and your recovery process consider taking videos instead – you can back them up from your phone to your computer and look back on them as needed or if you are required to provide journal notes.

So one thing you’ll notice is I didn’t say to call a lawyer. That is a personal preference and each situation is different. We chose to not contact a lawyer for the time being and just let things run their course. It’s important when you talk to any insurance agent that you realize that as nice as they sound.. you are a statistic to them and they are judging how long it will take for you to fully recover based on what they ask you. Be mindful of leading questions, stick to your treatments and contact a lawyer if at any point you feel pressured to settle or discontinue treatment by your insurance agents.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks running around car shopping, dealing with 2 insurance companies and doctors appointments but we are eternally grateful that he was not more seriously injured. I really appreciate everyone’s patience as we try to catch up on life in the meantime.

Do you have any post-accident tips? Share below!

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4 comments

  1. Michelle B says:

    When we were in our accident in January I was lucky enough to have a police office that was behind me and witness the accident so police were on scene from the get go. Though they did not let me take many pictures or even get out of my van until it was time for me to pack up into the cab and grab as much as I could while trying to juggle a 3 year old and 5 month old. They also didn’t even let me speak to the other driver.
    Michelle B recently posted…Making First Day of School Photo MemoriesMy Profile

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