Accidents happen. Sometimes there is no avoiding a collision on the road. Other times another driver is at fault. Either way you should be prepared when accidents happen. Knowing what to do when you are in an accident will keep you safer, and give you a better chance at avoiding costly bills.
Safety and Injuries
The first thing you should do after any accident, no matter how big or small is check for injuries. Even fender benders can result in serious injuries. If you have passengers in your car check to make sure they are ok after you check yourself. It doesn’t do any good to try and help someone if you are injured yourself. Call 911 immediately if someone is injured severely. Check that the person or persons in the other vehicle are ok as well and do not need medical attention. Seeing a doctor after an accident is highly recommended, even if you feel like you weren’t injured. Some symptoms of an accident can take days or weeks to emerge like dizziness, back and neck pain, and concussion like symptoms.
If you can, move your car to a safe area on the side of the road as well. Staying in the street increases the chance of a follow up accident. Once everyone is safe, you can start trading info.
Even if the accident wasn’t your fault try to keep your cool. Accidents are usually never intentional and the other driver might feel that you are as much to blame as they were. De-escalating the situation will be beneficial to both parties involved. Taking video or pictures of your interactions and the damage is especially useful. The video and pictures can be provided as hard proof of the damage incurred from the accident. Should one party decide to take the other into court, having that evidence of your interaction will be key. An accident lawyer can help you with any legal issues stemming from your accident.
Calling the police and filing a report is recommended. The police can be viewed as an impartial 3rd party following the accident, recording facts and statements. Never admit guilt after an accident, even if the accident was your fault, as it can complicate things down the line. Let the law and insurance companies determine who was at fault.
While waiting for police to arrive you can exchange basic info with the person you were in the accident with. Grab their name, address, phone number, e-mail, make and model of their car, license plate number, and insurance carrier and policy number. If someone asks you for information be careful, exchanging the items listed above is standard, but you should never give away things like your Social Security number or sign any documents. Once you have collected everything you can file a report with your insurance company and let the system work from there.
Your car might need serious repairs after an accident. Depending on what your insurance policy covers, you could be stuck with high repair costs. If accidents are severe enough, the cost of repair can be larger than the value of a car. At that point you might have to look for a new car, whether it is new or used, to replace the old one. Making repairs or buying a new car is the final step following an accident.