If you’re ever involved in a hit-and-run or even just witness one, panic can take over quickly and you may not know what to do. Once you know what your plan of action should be, you can rest assured that if it should ever happen, you’ll be prepared enough to push past the panic and do what you need to do.

If you witness a hit and run:

First things first, call the emergency services or a Collision Reporting Centre. Even when it seems like no one was hurt, having at least the police on hand as soon as possible can only help.

If someone was hurt, you may then go to them and check their condition if it’s safe to do so. If you have first aid experience then by all means do what you can to help them, but if you don’t have first aid experience, keep in mind that despite your good intentions you could accidentally end up aggravating their condition.

While you wait for first responders to arrive, it’s a good idea to write down everything you remember about the accident while it’s fresh. Do you remember what kind of vehicle it was? Perhaps even the license plate? The accuracy of eyewitness accounts is still hotly debated and as humans our recollection is always fallible, so your notes could come in very handy later.

Stay at the scene. Your job isn’t over when the cops arrive. As the witness to a crime, you should stay on the scene to answer any questions the authorities might have, and if you’re not sure what to do next, just ask. They will let you know if you can continue on your way and if they might want to get in touch again at a later date.

If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run:

All of the points above also apply when you’re on the receiving end of a collision, but with a couple more crucial to-dos.

The most important thing is to accept medical attention if you were harmed in the crash. Even if you don’t think your injuries are severe enough to warrant attention from a medical professional you shouldn’t take chances with your health, and having an assessment at the time of the collision can support a compensation claim in the future.

If there’s only one thing that you take away from this article, let it be this: Try to file a police report within 24 hours. If you want any sort of coverage from your insurance, the time in which you file the police report can be make-or-break depending on your insurance provider.

On top of taking notes on what happened, be sure to take photos of the damage if you are able to do so. Make sure you take close-up shots as well as wider shots showing the overall aftermath because the more documentation you have, the greater chance you’ll be compensated for your suffering.

Once you have the urgent things taken care of, call your insurance company’s emergency service line. In the same vein as the police report, the sooner you do this the better, and the more details you can provide the better.

If you commit a hit-and-run:

Of course, you would never imagine you’d ever be behind the wheel of a hit-and-run, but the truth is you can never know how you’ll react to an emergency situation until you’re in one.

If you are in a collision and your instinct tells you to flee, pull over for a moment. Take some deep breaths. Accidents happen even for the best of drivers, but running away from the problem will only make it worse.

Once you’ve collected yourself enough to be able to drive safely, head back to the scene of the accident. Check on the person you hit, exchange insurance information, and call 911 if necessary. Write down your account of what happened, and follow the instructions of the first responders.

The important thing to remember is that just because your instantaneous response might not be right doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. You always have a second chance to do the right thing, and you won’t regret it.

Whatever your involvement:

However you fit into the equation, no matter how much you prepare, you’re going to have questions. That’s where the team at Helping Hand can help.

They can answer any questions you might have about the legal implications of your specific incident and your options moving forward, because that’s not something you can get from an article. Call 1-844-288-HURT to get in touch with one of Helping Hand’s experienced professionals.