What to Do When You’re in a Car Accident
Crash! Boom! Bang! The unexpected has happened. You’ve had an accident. It can happen to even the most careful driver. Whether it is a minor fender bender or something slightly more devastating (oh no, the car is totaled!), the following key tips will help you navigate those stressful post-crash moments.
Keep Calm and DON’T Carry On
Don’t panic and stay put. Assess the situation. If you or anyone is seriously injured, call 911 for an ambulance immediately. Turn on your hazard lights. If your car still runs and you’re blocking traffic, move to the side of the road for your safety.
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Call the Cops
The police may or may not come, but you should file a report as soon as you can. You want your side of the story on record (even if you think it is your fault). Ignore the other driver if they suggest “settling things without the cops.” It is important to protect your interests after an accident. A police report will help you avoid a “he said/she said” situation.
Record the Details
Politely exchange information with the other driver, assuming they have stuck around. Get their name, address, phone number, and driver license number. Do the same with any witnesses. If your cell phone has a camera, take pictures of the scene, both close up and from a distance. Don’t rely on your memory for the following important details:
- Location of the accident. Get specific with the address and any landmarks
- Make and model of the other car including license plate number and any visible damage
- Description of all individuals involved in the accident including the passengers
Zip Your Lip
Limit your interactions with the other driver. Don’t say anything that could be used against you later. Even a simple “I’m sorry” could be considered an admission of fault. Only discuss the accident with the police and your insurance agent.
Call Your Insurance Company
Even if the accident isn’t your fault, you’ll need to report the accident to your insurance company immediately. Your insurance agent will walk you through the process of filing a claim.
Get Checked Out by a Medical Professional
When you’re in a car accident, sometimes a bump is worse than it seems. Adrenaline produced by your body diminishes the amount of pain you feel from injuries. You may be okay, but it’s worth it to get examined by a doctor just in case. Many accident victims think they’re fine and wake up to terrible pain the next day. Play it safe, and make sure that you have documentation just in case the situation evolves.
On the Road Again
An accident can be very distressing but if you stay calm and follow the steps above, you’ll be back behind the steering wheel in no time.