Nothing takes the wind out of your sails on vacation like a car accident. Unfortunately, the risk is always there—especially when you’re likely driving on unfamiliar roads, running on minimal sleep, and possibly driving a rental car that you’re not entirely comfortable with. If you are involved in a car crash on vacation, it’s important to take the right steps to protect yourself.
Take a Moment to Assess the Situation
It’s easy to panic after a crash, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar city with your entire family in tow. Panicking won’t help anyone and will actually make your situation worse, so take a few moments to breathe and look around. Make sure everyone in your car is conscious and check for any immediately obvious injuries.
Report the Accident
You will need to report the accident to the appropriate authorities. Your insurance will want a copy of the police report, as will your personal injury attorney if anyone is injured. If it’s not a serious accident, take a moment to search the local non-emergency number. If it’s a more serious accident, call 911 and let them know about any serious injuries so they can send medical assistance. You may want to have someone in your vehicle check for road signs, local businesses, or other location markers.
This step is particularly important when you are involved in a vacation car accident. When you talk about the crash later, you’ll be talking about a city you are only slightly familiar with. Having photos of the scene will be very helpful. Take photos from different angles and distances, and make sure that many of your photos have local businesses, road signs, speed limit signs, and other identifying information in the background. You may also want to take a few minutes to write down what you remember of the accident so you can refer back to it later.
Exchange Contact Information
Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. If you’re worried about losing it, take a photo of their ID and insurance card. Save those photos with your accident scene photos. If anyone stopped at the scene of the accident to provide assistance or to report what they saw, get their contact information as well.
Get Checked Out by a Doctor
Prompt medical care is just as important in this type of accident as it is when you crash closer to home. However, it might be a little harder to find a local urgent care facility or hospital if you don’t know the area well. If you’re too frazzled to use your phone to search for a local facility, ask the police officers who respond to the scene of the accident. They may be willing to direct you to a nearby medical center.
Reach Out to a Local Attorney
To be clear, you should contact an attorney local to the area where your accident occurred—not necessarily one from your home city or state. You want an attorney who is licensed in the state where the accident occurred and who is familiar with local roads, accident trends, and insurance providers.
Don’t worry about the logistics of working with an out-of-state lawyer. Personal injury lawyers are used to working with visitors and know how important it is not to disrupt your busy life any more than usual. Almost every part of your case can be handled remotely, especially if your case settles out of court and your attorney handles every aspect of negotiations.
Make sure you do this as soon as possible after your accident. If you wait too long, important evidence may be lost, and it’ll be much harder for you to pursue compensation.