Car accident on the highway can be devastating for everyone involved, and hopefully, this never happens to you. The damage to the involved vehicles is typically significant, and the injuries can be serious.

Whether or not the accident is blocking freeway lanes or you can pull over to the side, you still have to watch out for other vehicles speeding by. Unfortunately, traffic accidents on freeways occur daily. So the question remains: if you’re in a vehicle accident on the highway, do you know what steps you need to take?

Steps to Take After a Car Accident on the Highway

There are several steps you should take after a car accident on the highway, which we’re going to cover in greater detail ahead.

1. Never Leave the Scene of an Accident

Laws vary by state, but some, like Texas, require drivers to remain on the scene. Regardless of the severity of the accident, leaving the scene often results in a hit-and-run charge. Fines can be hefty, and other penalties can be severe.

You may lose your driving privileges or even face potential jail time. Leaving the scene can also automatically place the blame on you, meaning you are responsible for covering all damages regardless of who is at fault. So remember, always wait for law enforcement to arrive before continuing on your way.

2. Move Out of Traffic, If Possible

Some accidents are too severe to move your vehicle out of the way. In this case, stay in your vehicle until the authorities arrive and deem it safe to exit. The last thing you want to do is cause another accident or, worse, get struck by an oncoming vehicle.

Whenever possible, move the involved vehicles to the shoulder. Sometimes, you may even be able to exit the highway. Pull over at the first safe location and wait for law enforcement to arrive.

Before pulling off of the freeway, signal your intentions to the other driver. This way, you can avoid any unpleasantries that may arise if the other driver feels you are attempting to leave the scene.

3. Call 911 As Soon As Possible

Before you exchange insurance information and personal details, report the accident to authorities. The easiest and fastest way is by dialing 911. Report the location of the accident, nearby exit numbers and mileage markers are effective at pinpointing your location. Try to provide the 911 operator with as much information as possible.

Along with your locations, describe the severity of the accident, the number of vehicles involved, and if there are any injuries. The more information you can provide, the better the authorities can quickly assist.

4. Exchange Insurance Information

When injuries are not preventing the exchange of information, you may want to start before the authorities arrive. They will also ask for driver’s licenses and proof of insurance, but if you don’t exchange the information before their arrival, you may have to wait for the police report. Waiting for the police report will take time, sometimes as long as a few weeks. Without the necessary information, you cannot start your insurance claim.

Your insurance adjuster will want to see a copy of the police report, but you can start the claim process with the other driver’s information and the report number. You can usually get the report number from a responding officer at the scene.

5. Thoroughly Document the Accident

To speed up your insurance claim, it helps to thoroughly document the accident if you can do so safely. If your injuries are preventing you from taking notes or photos, don’t worry. The information will be in the police report; it will just take a little longer.

Even if you can’t walk around the vehicles and snap pictures, you can still write everything down. Another idea is to use your phone to record your statement. Recording the accident while it’s fresh in your mind can help ensure nothing is left out since adding onto an initial claim can be difficult.

6. Contact Your Insurance Provider

After calling 911, go ahead and alert your insurance provider about the car accident. If your injuries require medical attention, call from your room or after being checked out and released. Contacting your agent as soon as possible will speed up the amount of time it can take to settle your claim.

Don’t worry about contacting the other driver’s insurance provider—your agent will handle it, and you may only add confusion to the already stressful situation.

Talk to an Experienced Accident Attorney

Car accidents on highways are always stressful, even when you have great insurance—however, don’t let an insurance company reduce the amount of fair compensation that you’re rightfully owed.

To help you through this troubling time, talk to an experienced accident attorney as soon as possible. You can protect your legal rights and ensure your settlement is the maximum amount owed to help you recover.