1. Find Out Whether Everyone Is Okay
Your first priority should always be the health and safety of everyone involved. If you’re in good enough shape to move around, then you should check to see how everyone else involved in the accident is doing and call emergency services. If you’re trained in first aid and you’re confident in your training, you should put your knowledge to good use, although you should also remember to never move a person who isn’t responding since he or she might have a neck injury.
2. Preserve The Scene
If the accident is serious enough to call in the police, you should avoid touching or moving anything you don’t have to move to make sure that everyone is safe. At best, you’re making life harder for the police, and at worst you could be guilty of tampering with evidence. For that matter, whether you needed to call the police or not, you should start taking pictures of the scene if you have any sort of camera handy. You should also take pictures of your injuries, assuming you sustained any.
3. Exchange Information
If the accident is a traffic accident, and if more than one person was involved, you should definitely write down the license and insurance information for a personal copy. You should also make sure you insist on copying from the license and the insurance card directly, since that’s the only way to be certain that you’re getting the correct information.
4. Be Honest, Be Complete, But Don’t Admit Fault
Whether you’re speaking to the other people at the scene or the authorities, you should be ready to explain exactly what you saw and what you did, and you should also avoid speculating about things you didn’t see or didn’t understand from your perspective.
At the same time, however, you should also avoid saying that the accident was your fault even if you think it might have been. Unless there isn’t a shred of doubt that you were responsible, such as if you ran into a parked car or you clearly pressed the wrong button on an industrial machine, then you shouldn’t say that it’s your fault. It could turn out that you’re wrong and the accident happened for some other reason, but the insurance investigators won’t bother finding out if they can take you at your word.
5. Keep All The Records
This means you should keep copies of every scrap of information you collect related to the accident. If you took photos, don’t delete them. If you wind up with hospital bills, a doctor’s diagnosis, or any other medical paperwork, make sure you keep a copy. You should also create backup copies of everything so that you can submit your information as often as needed for the insurance companies.
Ultimately, all of this advice comes from one single rule: don’t panic. Don’t run from the scene if you were involved, don’t exaggerate or lie when anyone asks you what happened, and don’t speculate about anything you can’t say for certain. If you can avoid panicking and stay honest, you should be in good shape no matter what else happens.