Car Accident 101: What To Do
Most people have experienced some sort of an accident out on the roads before. Whether they’ve been involved in an accident, caused an accident, or just witnessed one, car accidents are far more common than you may think. That said, a lot of drivers, even those with years of experience out on the road, are unsure of what to do when they find themselves in the middle of an accident. Here are a few simple tips about what you can do the next time you find yourself in the middle of a car accident.
Make Sure Everyone Is Okay First
Are you aware of the fact that nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year? This figure comes out to an average of 3,287 deaths a day. With figures like these, car accidents are nothing that you want to play around with. Due to their potentially fatal nature, you should always check to make sure that everyone involved in the car accident is okay, even if you think the incident was not that bad.
You never know what might be going on in another car, or with another driver once a car accident has happened. A lot of drivers make the mistake of assuming that just because they were not hurt or injured during the car accident, that everyone else involved must be fine and dandy too. This type of thinking is never a good way to go about handling a car accident. Making sure that all parties are in good condition is a necessity if you find yourself needing to deal with a car accident.
Before exiting your vehicle, make sure that you are in a safe position to do so. Sometimes other cars and conditions on the road can make it unsafe to attempt to leave your vehicle to check up on the other party. If you find yourself in a car accident that occurs in the middle of inclement weather conditions, then trying to exit your vehicle presents an even greater risk to your safety and well being. While it’s always a good idea to check that everyone involved is okay, you should never risk your own safety in order to do so.
Do What You Can to Be Visible
Because car accidents can often lead to even more accidents and dangerous conditions for other drivers, it’s vital to make sure that you provide as much visibility as possible at the site of an accident. This means you should leave your hazard lights or blinking lights on to alert approaching vehicles of your current condition. If you have any caution signs, road flares, or bright colors you can display on your vehicle, then that’s even better. Doing everything you can to show other drivers that there’s been an accident is one of the best ways to prevent any further damage to the scene.
Is the other driver doing the same? Before you get too deep into navigating other aspects of the accident, such as documenting with photos and exchanging information, you should check to see that the other driver has also made the necessary precautions to make their vehicle visible at the site of the crash. Once both parties have taken these steps, then you can begin to process the rest of your responsibilities.
Try to Remain Calm
Any sort of crisis situation is sure to elevate your stress, panic, and adrenaline levels. This is to be expected when you’re involved in an accident out on the roads. However, if you can remember during an emergency situation, you will be far calmer and collected. In fact, just recognizing your feelings at the moment may be enough to help you stabilize yourself and do what needs to be done.
Getting angry and upset when an accident occurs will only escalate things. This kind of negative energy can cause even more stress and confusion in a situation that already has plenty of both. Whether the accident was your fault or the fault of the driver, you can help things go smoothly with your attitude. Try to stay as level headed as possible while speaking and communicating with other drivers, witnesses, and law enforcement agents. When you remain calm, you give yourself a much better chance of getting through the situation as safely, effectively, and quickly as possible. Adding anger and frustration to the mix will only make things that much harder to deal with.
While it’s quite difficult to summon up your inner calm in a car accident, you can practice methods and techniques in your daily life that will transfer into how you handle emergency situations. Try focusing on your breath for a few minutes each day. Doing so will increase your clarity and awareness of the world around, both of which contribute to skills that can help you navigate an accident. A regular meditation routine may help to give you the mental stability you need to function efficiently in otherwise hectic situations. If you can remain calm during an accident, you and everyone involved will be in a much better position to deal with things.
Contact the Police or Emergency Services
Don’t make the mistake of just assuming that someone else involved in the accident is going to call the police for you. You should always do your part to guarantee that law enforcement is informed of the accident. Be sure to include any relevant details in your call, such as your exact location, how many vehicles are involved, and any other details that might be helpful in assisting law enforcement to provide you with their aid. Sure, it’s never fun to have to dial 9-1-1 especially if you were the cause of the accident, but doing so will ensure that everyone on the road is helped in a safe, orderly manner in the event of an accident.
Be sure that you talk to each and every nearby witness. This means going through every detail possible. What did they see and what did they not see? What angle were they at when the accident occurred? You can never get too many details when it comes to speaking to anyone who has seen the accident happen. Ask them what they heard, what they saw, and any other pertinent details that can help to illuminate the causes or sources of the accident. Also, you should always make sure to get names their names and their contact information if any follow up inquiries need to be made in the future.
Write down what happened and try to do so as soon as possible while the experience is still fresh in your mind and your memory. But don’t just allow your writing to do the work, use your phone or a digital camera to take pictures of everything. Obviously, an accident can be quite a jarring and disorienting thing to deal with, especially if it’s a more severe incident. However, trying to remain calm and make clear documents of everything will be tremendously helpful in the long run. Your photos and writings don’t have to be perfect, just try to capture every detail that you possibly can, as soon as you can.
Exchange Contact Information with Other Drivers
When you’re in an accident, it’s tough to remember all the small details of what has happened. For this reason, it’s critical to ensure that you do not leave the site of the incident without obtaining the contact information of every party involved. You should be sure to get their full name, car insurance information, license plate number, vehicle type, and more. Having a complete picture of everyone involved in the accident will help both your insurance company in determining your expenses, and it will also assist law enforcement in covering the legal aspects of the accident.
Contact Your Lawyer
Whether or not you believe the car accident was your fault, it’s never a bad idea to get in touch with your lawyer right away after a car accident has occurred. Doing so can not only help to clarify your legal responsibilities, but it can also set you up so that you’re in a position that helps you rather than causes you further hardships.
Depending on the nature of your situation, it may be adequate to reach out and contact your regular lawyer, but if things are a little more complicated then you may want to consider seeking more specialized help such as a truck accident lawyer or a probate attorney. Dealing with a car accident is never fun, especially when it comes to the types of complex legal aspects that can often be involved in these kinds of situations, but it’s wise to take the reins and seek the right help sooner rather than later.
Seek Medical Attention
Of course, if you or another party involved in the car accident has been hurt or injured, then you should not wait to seek immediate emergency care right away. Doing so may be the difference between stopping further harm and an injury getting even worse than it started. If you’re not able to find an urgent care clinic nearby, then try to find a facility that offers 24 hour urgent care. Regardless of what kinds of injuries have been sustained in the car accident, or how severe you think they may be, it’s never smart to neglect to visit an urgent care clinic.
Sometimes you may think that you don’t have any injuries after an accident. A lot of people, even if they experience a strong jolt or sudden motion as a result of the impact, think that just because they don’t have any visible scratches, marks, or bruises, that means they are fine to get back to their normal life. However, doing so can actually be quite dangerous. Some injuries, such as concussions, are not always easily observed by the person experiencing them. Even if you assume that you are just fine after an accident, you should always make sure to seek the appropriate medical attention to ensure that everything is fine.
Contact Your Car Insurance Company
Your car insurance company is there to help you when you find yourself in the midst of a car accident. Obviously, it’s a good idea to get in touch with them once you’re certain the logistics of safety and well being of everyone involved in the crash are handled. However, you don’t want to wait too long to get in touch with your insurance company. The sooner you do so, the sooner you can determine who is at fault, how much money is owed, and when payments are due. Far too many people are afraid to let their car insurance provider know that they were involved in an accident, but this kind of negligence only causes more problems for you in the long run. Don’t delay when it comes time to contact your car insurance agent after an accident.
Get Your Car Repaired
The nature and severity of your car accident will ultimately determine how much money and time you need to invest in obtaining quality car repair. Everything from refinishing to replacing parts to taking your vehicle through a touchless car wash may be needed depending on how bad your car was damaged in the accident. Sometimes even a mild fender bender accident can cause significant, costly damage if the collision hits the right part of the body of your car. A lot of times your car insurance will cover the cost of some of your repairs, but you can’t know until you get in touch with them and take your car to a local body repair shop or mechanic.
Dealing with the financial aspects of car repairs can be troublesome. You may even want to consider refinancing the vehicle if you are on a lease with a dealership. Sometimes, it’s not even worth the money needed to repair the car, in which case declaring the car as “totaled” might be your best bet. Either way, you should seek out the help of a certified auto body repair shop following a car accident, as it’s the only way to browse your options for getting things repaired and functional again.
It’s wise to have a budget in place for dealing with car repairs. While routine maintenance and inspections are to be expected as a car owner, handling the expenses associated with an accident and the necessary repairs can be even more surprising. Keeping a substantial car repair fund in your budget will make sure that you are not completely blindsided by the financial responsibility of getting your car back in shape after an accident. There are many online budget planning tools you can use to help yourself be prepared for an accident. Meeting with a certified financial planner can also help to get you started in the right direction. You won’t regret being prepared for the costs of an accident.
No driver wants to have to deal with a car accident, but it’s helpful to be prepared in the event that you have to. By sticking to these simple tips, we hope that you will be well prepared to deal with an accident the next time you encounter one out on the roads. Good luck and safe driving out there!