Our bodies have an amazing way of compensating when we experience an injury or some other sort of trauma. That is a handy attribute at most times, but in the minutes immediately following a vehicle accident, it can fool us into thinking that we are okay when we are not.

For instance, if your vehicle is hit from the rear with considerable force, you might feel a little stiffness in your neck or back right after impact, but conclude that you’ll be all right the next day after you “loosen up.” In many of these cases, however, after sleeping on that neck (if you are able to), you can wake up the next day feeling much, much worse and unable to move your neck and head. You have sustained a serious injury to your body.

The lesson is: do not ever assume that you are “fine” in the moments after an accident on the road. The adrenaline rush that comes during all the excitement of an accident’s aftermath can mask injuries. If your body is jolted in any way, you should make a call to an Emergency Medical Service team. This crucial step will not only safeguard your health, but it might become extremely important as your accident is handled by insurance companies and possibly the courts.

An EMS team will give you the medical attention that you need even if you don’t believe you need any. This is no time to be modest or tough. Let the team do a thorough examination. The team members know precisely what to look for as they examine you—glazed eyes? Stiff neck? Rib pain?

The team will then treat you as necessary and also produce what could be an invaluable document: a report detailing the examination with a summary of the suspected injuries suffered. Later, after you hire a competent car accident attorney, that document will provide unquestionable evidence for an insurance company, judge or jury, depending on how your claim/case advances.

A trustworthy guideline for deciding whether or not to call an EMS team is this: if you have any doubt whatsoever about the soundness of your health, call EMS. When in doubt, call.

If you are physically able, move your car out of traffic and secure the accident scene while you wait for the EMS team. A call to the police is also in order if the accident has produced any visible damage to your vehicle, no matter how good or bad you feel.

The other steps to take after an accident all hinge a bit on your ability to function. If you are in tremendous pain, then someone else will have to make the calls and protect the accident scene. That person will also have to take photos of the accident, call the insurance companies, round up eyewitnesses and gather any relevant physical evidence. That’s a lot to do, but remember that the police will help you with many of these details if the other driver is unable to do so or is uncooperative in the matter.

EMS teams are happy to help vehicle accident victims. Even if you don’t consider yourself a victim or like to show how much pain you can sustain, it is far better to err on the side of caution and call EMS. You will be glad that you did when an insurance company pays all of your medical bills for months or years to come, due to the EMS report filed at the scene of the accident.