Guess what? You are the only perfect driver. Admit it; you have thought this before. Seriously though, no matter how vigilant you are, accidents happen.
Car accidents are scary no matter who’s at fault. There is an adrenaline rush, chaos, and sometimes you know what happened and sometimes you don’t. Your first instinct may be to jump out of your vehicle to find out what happened. Don’t do this.
Before getting to what to do in case of an accident, let’s talk about exactly what insurance is.
Basically, a car insurance policy protects you from paying for any damage or injuries if there is a car accident. Depending on the type of car insurance you have, it may cover damage to your car as well. Car crashes aren’t the only type of accidents that insurance covers. They also cover other things, such as hitting a stationary object like a tree, pole, or even your garage. Not to mention any animals that you aren’t able to avoid, like a deer.
Now, let’s get into what you really want to know. These steps work no matter who is at fault or even if you were involved in a hit and run. If you follow the steps, below you’ll discover filling out your paperwork is much easier when you know what to do if you’re in a car accident.
1. Check Yourself And Passengers For Injuries
Immediately check yourself and anyone that’s in the car for injuries. If anyone experiences neck or back pain, make sure they don’t move until help arrives. The adrenaline experienced in a car accident dulls your pain, and you may not realize the extent of the injury.
2. Check Your Surroundings & Get Out Of The Way Of Traffic
If there weren’t any injuries, check your surroundings and then move to safety. Check for the smell of gas and determine if you need to do anything to ensure everyone is safe. If you are in the way of traffic you need to move your car as long as there are no injuries.
While moving your vehicle, make sure you do it slowly and do your best to be calm. This is harder than you may think. Anyone who has been in an accident knows you can easily pull forward instead of reversing. These types of mistakes are common when you are in a high-stress situation. So really pay attention to what you’re doing to prevent further damage to your vehicle or the other party’s car.
3. Call The Police & Make A Report
No matter how minor the accident is, you need to call the police. If you are planning to file a claim with your insurance, a police report is mandatory. There are areas where police will not come out to a minor accident, especially in large cities.
When or if the police come out, you want to get their name, badge number, and contact information. You’ll also need to get a copy of the police report. Many places are moving their records online, and you’ll have to get your info off the internet. This will save time because if you don’t get it, your insurance company will have to.
4. Gather Information & Take Pictures
Especially if the police don’t show up, you’ll want to gather the other party’s information. You’ll need information such as their name, address, phone number, insurance information, and if there are any witnesses, you’ll need theirs too. As a side note, avoid discussing who’s at fault; stick to the facts.
If you have your cell phone with you, you need to take pictures of the vehicles and any injuries you or your passengers may have. There are times you may not be able to take the photos at the time of the accident. If not, then take them as soon as you can.
5. Seek Treatment & Notify Your Insurance Company
You must tell first responders about any pain you are experiencing after the accident and seek medical treatment immediately. You may not feel pain or think your injuries are minor but then experience pain a few days later. Having proper documentation will help prove the injury occurred due to the accident. If you experience new or worsening pain, you’ll want to immediately schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Sometimes people believe it is easier to negotiate a cash settlement with the other driver to avoid getting the insurance companies involved. This is a bad idea; You are liable for any damages above the cash settlement if you don’t contact your insurance company. Many states have a time limit on how long you can wait to file a claim, so it’s essential to do it immediately.
Most people think of car insurance as that useless bill you have to pay monthly… until you actually need it. You never know when or if an accident will happen, so make sure you have car insurance that best suits your needs and at a fair price. If you live in a no-fault state and don’t have car insurance, you can end up in a whole mess of trouble, especially with the law.
The steps listed above may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people get lost in the heat of the moment. The truth is, many people act without thinking, and they instantly want to confront the other driver. Confrontation is something you want to avoid. Take the time to assess and breathe before doing anything foolish.