The aftermath of a motor vehicle accident is stressful no matter how you slice it. Once your heart leaves your throat and moves back into your chest, you quickly check your surroundings, take stock of your physical condition and start looking around for damage. 

You plan on getting checked out by a doctor just to be safe, but you are relieved that there are no obvious signs of injury. Sure, your car has seen better days, but it could have been so much worse. You’re starting to feel calm…until you see an irate driver getting out of the other car and heading in your direction. 

That momentary feeling of relief has quickly been replaced by anxiousness or possibly a sense of indignation (who the heck are they to blame this on you?).

Time out! 

It’s important to do everything you can to get back to that moment of zen you had when you realized you were all in one piece. Nothing good will come out of getting into a shouting match or a physical argument. Take a deep breath and remain focused on constructive actions like talking to the police or state patrol, and exchanging names, phone numbers, and insurance information. 

The advice of one retired police officer is helpful to remember: “Don’t get in an argument with them, your personal safety is important. If you get out of the vehicle and there’s a confrontation right off the bat, that’s not what you want to do, so get back in your vehicle.” 

If the police haven’t arrived, call them. You are expected to exchange information with the other driver, but that can wait until police arrive to ensure your safety during the exchange. 

Follow through with getting checked out!

Once you’ve exchanged information and made sure you understand the next steps regarding a police report, make sure to stop by the hospital to get a clean bill of health. Symptoms of injuries may not show up immediately, so it’s important to establish a record of medical treatment in case you need to pursue a personal injury claim later to recover financial compensation for medical expenses.