A car accident is one of those traumatic experiences that could happen to anyone. When someone you know has been in an accident, it’s understandable that you’ll want to say the “right thing.” They’re likely in pain, especially if the accident was serious, and stressing about how to put their life back together. Many car accident victims are just thankful they survived the crash.
If you’re not sure what to say, below are some ideas and some insight into what your friend, loved one, or acquaintance might be going through.
How Might Someone Be Feeling After Surviving a Car Accident?
When thinking about what to say after someone has just had a car accident, try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Car accidents, whether they are minor or extreme, can deeply affect those involved. They have just been in a very dangerous situation—and they survived. There are a range of emotions that can come with this experience.
They might be thinking about how lucky they were but they may also be feeling guilty if others were hurt, or even killed, in the accident. Someone in a car accident can also have painful injuries that last for a long time. Some car accident injuries do not ever fully heal.
In addition, an accident can leave someone with psychological trauma for many, many years. They may struggle with getting behind the wheel for fear of getting into another accident, for example. It’s important to understand that these feelings are very common—and very real.
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What Should I Say to Someone After a Car Accident?
Some people are afraid of what to say after someone has suffered a tragedy. You might be overwhelmed knowing you can’t take the pain away, especially if their car accident was very serious. However, don’t let this prevent you from reaching out. You don’t need to solve their problems—you just need to show you care.
Here are some of the best things to say.
“I’m Glad You’re Okay”
Car accidents are not easy for anyone involved. Just knowing that you’re glad they survived and are standing in front of you will mean a lot.
If you are close to the person, you might give them a hug, too. A hug is a simple gesture that lets them know you’re thinking of them.
“I’m Here For You if You Need Anything”
Let them know that you can’t imagine what they’re going through but you’re here if they need to talk or if they need anything else.
If they want to talk about the accident, give them the space to do so. Don’t force them to say anything they aren’t comfortable with. Just be there to listen.
Also, remember that this person has not changed just because they were in a car accident. If they are in the hospital or have severe injuries, your presence may mean a lot.
“How Are You Feeling?”
When you first see the friend or loved one after the accident, ask how they’re feeling. Be prepared for a less-than-happy answer. Some people feel hopeful and even grateful for surviving an accident, but many accident victims are feeling emotions like pain, sadness, anger, despair or loss.
Give them space to communicate these feelings to you. They will go through tough days (or weeks, or months) before things get better, and that’s okay. Healing is a process that takes time.
Also, follow up with them regularly. Instead of saying, “Are you feeling better today?” ask, “How are you feeling/doing today?” This phrasing will allow them to be more honest and not feel pressure to be doing better if they aren’t.
“What Can I Do for You?”
Life does not stop just because of a car accident. On top of injuries and vehicle damage, the person still has daily responsibilities to worry about. They may be worried about getting back to work, paying their bills, caring for their kids or pets, and more.
Look for ways to lessen the burden. Ask what would help. Maybe that means:
- Bringing dinner for the week
- Picking up their kids from school
- Giving them rides while their vehicle is in the shop
- Bringing them things to do while in the hospital
- Or just visiting regularly to lend an ear
If they’re facing substantial medical bills and vehicle repair costs, you might consider getting together with your community to assist with costs. That could mean starting a GoFundMe or other fundraising campaign, such as a bake sale or t-shirt sale, to help their family.
In addition, if the person was not at fault for their accident and they live in a fault state like Georgia, they may be entitled to compensation for accident costs. You might be able to help them start the insurance claim process or contact a car accident lawyer.
What Should I Say if They Survived But Lost a Loved One in the Car Accident?
There’s nothing you can say to make up for the grief of losing a loved one in a car accident. It’s especially hard if they were in the accident and survived when their loved one did not.
The most you can do is simply be there for them. The above advice still applies. Be there to listen and help in any way you can. If you were very close to the person and knew the deceased, you might feel comfortable talking about their life together. However, make sure the grieving friend is ready for this.
What Should I NOT Say to Someone Who Just Had a Car Accident?
Support is most important, and that includes not making the person feel worse. What not to say is mostly common sense, but just in case, here are some phrases to avoid.
“Don’t Be So Upset. Cheer Up!”
Anyone who has just been in a car accident will experience tough emotions afterward. Car accidents are unexpected, painful, and very stressful. They can leave victims with serious injuries, life-long disabilities, emotional traumas like depression, anxiety, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and high medical bills and other costs.
Anyone in a car accident will need time to work through how they’re feeling. Even if it’s well-intentioned, it’s important to avoid phrases that suggest the loved one should feel differently than they do. It’s not possible to just “stop being sad” or “get over it.” Telling them to cheer up right after the accident can interfere with their healing process.
“You Should [Insert Advice]”
Avoid giving advice on what the person should do to get over the accident—unless they specifically ask for it.
They are likely already overwhelmed with medical treatment, getting their car repaired, and the insurance process. Be careful not to add another to-do to their list.
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What Legal Advice Can I Give My Friend After a Car Accident?
On the legal side, someone in a car accident may need a personal injury lawyer or wrongful death lawyer if the accident was caused by another driver.
While no one wants to think about the law after a tragic accident, taking action is important if a person is entitled to compensation. Recovering money to pay for medical bills and repair costs after an accident can make a huge difference.
The best advice you can give is to tell them to call a lawyer who can help. Other than that, make sure your friend:
- Sees a doctor for their injuries as soon as possible
- Takes pictures of their injuries, vehicle damage, and (if possible) the accident scene
- Gets the other driver’s name, contact information and insurance information
- Keeps track of all medical bills, repair quotes and other expenses from the accident
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today
At John Foy & Associates, we’re here to help after someone has survived a car accident. We know they may be entitled to compensation if they were not at fault. To schedule a FREE consultation and discuss the best options, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.