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When Should You Exit Your Vehicle After a Crash, and When Should You Stay Inside?

The moments following a car crash can be chaotic and disorienting. Your immediate reaction may be to exit your vehicle and assess the situation. However, understanding when to leave your vehicle and when to stay inside can protect you from further danger.

After an accident, your safety and that of the other people in your vehicle are the most important considerations, and knowing what to do in various crash scenarios is one of the best ways to stay safe.

Unfortunately, even if you do everything correctly, injuries can still happen, and that’s when you should contact a Green Bay car accident lawyer to help you recover compensation.

Deciding to Exit or Remain Inside Your Vehicle

In some cases, staying inside your vehicle after a crash and waiting for first responders to arrive is a good idea, especially if the accident occurred in an area where traffic is still moving. If you leave your vehicle in this situation, you increase your risk of being struck by oncoming cars. However, if possible, you should follow the steps below:

  • Assess Your Surroundings: Before deciding whether to exit your vehicle, take a moment to assess your surroundings. If you are in a busy traffic area, it is safer to remain inside until the traffic has come to a stop or emergency responders instruct you to exit.
  • Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Location: If your vehicle is still operational and it is safe to do so, Wisconsin law requires you to try and move to a safer location, like the shoulder of the road or a nearby parking lot, and remain at the scene. Doing so reduces the risk of additional accidents and increases emergency personnel’s access to the scene of the collision.
  • Turn on Hazard Lights: If your vehicle is not movable or if you have safely moved it to the side of the road, activate your hazard lights. This indicates to other drivers that an accident has occurred and can reduce the likelihood of further collisions.
  • Call for Help: Dial emergency services immediately to report the accident and request assistance. Give them details about your location and let them know if anyone is injured or if there are any hazards at the scene.

When to Exit Immediately After a Crash

In some situations, you must exit your vehicle immediately for your safety and well-being. The two primary scenarios in which you should exit your vehicle are:

  • Smoke or Flames: If you see smoke or flames coming from the engine bay of your vehicle, exit quickly and move to a safe distance. Vehicle fires can quickly turn serious and result in life-threatening injuries.
  • Immediate Medical Attention: If you or anyone else in the vehicle requires immediate medical treatment from emergency responders, you may need to exit the vehicle for help. However, you should only try to exit the vehicle if you can move freely and without discomfort. In addition, never try to move someone with a neck injury, as you may worsen the injury.

Other Immediate Actions to Take After an Accident

In addition to knowing the right time to leave your vehicle after an accident, several other critical steps must be taken to protect your safety and support your compensation claim.

  • Check for Injuries: Assess yourself and your passengers for injuries. Immediately call for medical assistance if anyone is injured, even if the injuries seem minor. In some cases, such as with whiplash or a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you may not notice any symptoms until days or weeks after the accident.
  • Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved in the accident. Include names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance policy details.
  • Document the Scene: Take photos or videos of the accident, including vehicle damage, visible injuries, and license plates, as supporting evidence to verify your compensation claim. However, only take photos if it is safe, and never put yourself in harm’s way.
  • Contact Law Enforcement: Even for minor accidents, contact the police and file a report. You are legally required to contact law enforcement and file a report if the damage to the vehicle exceeds $1,000. Police reports form an essential paper trail critical for insurance claims and legal purposes.

Consult a Lawyer for the Next Steps After a Crash

After a crash, understanding when to exit your vehicle and when to stay put can protect the safety of yourself and others involved in the accident.

At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we understand the challenges and uncertainties that follow a car accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in an automotive accident as a result of another person’s negligence, our experienced attorneys are here to help.

Contact us today for a free consultation so we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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