What to do after a car accidentEven if you’re an amazingly safe driver odds are you will still be involved in an accident during your lifetime. In a 5 year period, 25% of American drivers will be in a car accident. Surely, this isn’t all due to bad driving. We have previously mentioned that driving defensively is one of the best ways to protect yourself on the roadways. Even the best drivers will at some point be involved in an accident and we want you to be sure to know what you need to do if you’re ever in that situation.

1. Remain Calm

When you’re in an accident, it’s essential that you stay calm. Assess the situation, and if all vehicles involved are not terribly damaged, move them out of the way of oncoming traffic. This prevents other vehicles from getting in an accident avoiding your accident, as well as keeping traffic moving. If it appears that there is serious damage to the vehicles or passengers, remain where you are and contact emergency crews. Remember, if someone appears to be seriously hurt do not move them unless absolutely necessary. You can easily cause more damage if they have a neck or back injury, it’s best to wait for professionals.

2. Keep an Emergency Kit Handy

We find it especially helpful to keep an emergency kit in your glove box or console. It should include pen and paper to record insurance information, a flashlight and basic first aid supplies. Most people have a cell phone for daily use, if you do not, consider keeping a disposable cell and charger in your kit. Most insurance companies recommend taking photos at the scene for documentation.

3. Be Safe

After the accident, be sure put on your hazard lights and set out cones or flares to guide traffic around your accident.

4. Exchange Information

Approach the other driver and exchange for following information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, insurance policy number, driver’s license number, the name of the owner of the vehicle and the license plate number. If you notice the owner’s name is different from the insured, ask the relationship. Don’t forget to make note of the vehicle’s color, make and the exact location of the accident. Don’t admit fault in the accident, even if you believe it was your fault. It’s best to let a 3rd party decide.

5. File an Accident Report

Even if the police don’t respond, you should file a state vehicle accident report. They’re available at police stations and the DMV website. An accident report often helps insurance companies speed up the claims process.

Get familiar with your insurance policy; you need to know exactly what is covered before unexpected bills start piling up. It’s best to know beforehand whether you’ll have rental reimbursement or towing covered.

6. Use Caution When Paying Out of Pocket

In a minor accident, people often pay out of pocket rather than alert the insurance companies. When given this option, consider it fully before agreeing. If the other driver agrees, and then changes their mind when the bill arrives more time has passed. The insurance company will have a harder time piecing together what happened.  Also, you have no way of knowing if the other driver will change his mind and report it to their insurance company. This could result in a hefty settlement or even a lawsuit.

 

Car accidents take a substantial toll on everyone involved. When you’re prepared, you can make this unpleasant experience go a little more smoothly and know you won’t leave the scene unprepared.