Car Accidents: What to Do
You can take steps now to be prepared in case you are involved in a car accident. Doing or saying the wrong thing can complicate an already stressful situation. Knowing in advance the proper actions to take can help you get through the accident as quickly and smoothly as possible regardless of who is at fault.
What to do Before an Accident
The very first thing you need to do to be prepared is to buy car insurance that provides sufficient coverage. Your budget may restrict how much and the exact type of coverage you can buy but even the minimum is better than nothing. If you have a car accident and are unable to provide proof of insurance, you can be in serious legal trouble even if you did not cause the accident. For this reason, you should always keep your insurance card on you or in your car in case you need to provide the information to a police officer or other driver. Keep an emergency kit in your car as well as the phone number of a tow truck company.
What to do at Time of Accident
If you are involved in a car accident, your first concern is safety. It is a natural reaction to panic and be concerned for the other driver. But it can be dangerous to leave your car if the accident occurs in a high-traffic area, especially if other cars are driving fast. Additionally, you may not be fully aware of injuries you sustained in the accident. Even whiplash from a mild fender bender can cause long-term damage and life-long medical problems. Depending upon your exact location, you may want to move your vehicle to the curb. For safety reasons, signs to do just that are frequently posted on highways.
Immediately call the police to report the accident. Calling 911 is an alternative if you do not have the phone number to the local police. Never leave the scene of an accident until the police say you can. Without a proper police report, your insurance company may be unwilling to pay for any claims you submit as a result of the accident. Call an ambulance or visit an emergency room if you believe you have been injured.
What to do After an Accident
As soon as possible, report the accident to your insurance company. To do this, you will need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Make sure you have sufficient information. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, you will need additional contact details. Get contact information on everybody in the other car as well as anybody who may have witnessed the accident.
Most importantly, even if you are the one who caused the accident, it is not a good idea to admit it. Let the police and insurance companies work it out. Your insurance company will walk you through submitting a claim for medical expenses or repairs to your vehicle. Do not be surprised if you need to follow up with your insurance agent to make sure the claim is processed quickly.