It is a virtual certainty that a vehicle collision will come as a surprise to those involved. In these situations, emotions can run hot and people can become enraged about negligence, injuries, property damage or their potential future financial struggles. There are five things a driver can do to remain calm and focused on avoiding future trouble either with law enforcement or an insurance carrier.

Here are some things to remember after an accident:

  1. Take clear, objective notes. In situations of high stress and emotional turmoil, it is easy to start editorializing – offering insight or commentary where none belongs. After an accident, it is best to take clear, objective notes about the road conditions, weather conditions, how many vehicles were on the road and any witnesses who might have stopped to offer assistance. These are facts you might be asked about later for a police report or the insurance claim. It is best to have a clear record of what happened rather than relying on your memory.
  2. Document everything. In the past, drivers were encouraged to carry a disposable camera in their glovebox for just such an occurrence. Now, with the photo and video capabilities of even the most common cell phone, everyone has access to a clear picture record. Take photos of vehicle damage, of all drivers involved, of any visible injuries and of anything else you think is relevant.
  3. Exchange information and keep the conversation constructive. As stated earlier, it’s easy to let your emotions run hot after a vehicle collision – especially one you believe was entirely due to the other driver’s negligence. In these situations, though, it is unproductive to get into an argument. It is not up to you to settle the dispute. It falls to the insurance companies, law enforcement and your personal injury attorney to get to the bottom of what happened.
  4. Make your phone calls. As soon as possible, you should call the police and your insurance company. Both will need to be made aware of the accident. With a police report filed, it makes the insurance claim a bit smoother. Generally, the third person you’ll want to call is your lawyer who can guide you through the process of ensuring your claim is handled efficiently and expediently.
  5. Seek medical care. Too many people make the snap decision that “I’m fine.” It is wise to have a medical professional perform whatever diagnostic tests he or she feels are needed soon after the collision. It is important to remember that some injuries don’t present symptoms until hours or days after an impact. A traumatic brain injury, for example, may remain hidden for quite some time. Even if you “feel” fine, it is wise to have a doctor perform tests.

It is important to remain calm and remain focused. Your efficiency in the moments directly following your vehicle collision can make your life easier in the future.