Chances are that you’ve already been in a car accident in your lifetime. It can be a scary occurrence — from a minor fender bender to a major collision, and everything in between, the sheer noise and impact can be a traumatic experience. On average, 6 million car accidents occur each year that result in an injury that was treated at a hospital or emergency care clinic, with more than 2 million of these injuries being permanent. This puts about 25% of the US population in an accident that has resulted in an injury that required treatment in the last five years — so again; chances are that you’ve been in a car accident in your lifetime.
Did you handle it well? Was there anything you would have done differently?
In order to ease your stress after a survivable car accident it’s vital to maintain your composure and stay calm – try and remember the major points from the following step-by-step guide and it will help you maintain your presence of mind and not forget any crucial after a car crash.
Before you do anything else, if your car is still running go ahead and turn off your vehicle.
In a crash that impacts the vehicle’s occupants to a significant force, it’s important to not make any sudden movements. There’s a reason why whiplash and neck injuries, while occasionally fraudulent, are the majority of injuries reported after a car accident. More than one-third of all liability or personal injury claims involve neck injuries, according to the Insurance Research Council.
With that said, once potential injuries and the situation are adequately gauged — and you’re confident that remaining in the vehicle poses more danger than being outside the vehicle — proceed to exit the vehicle as cautiously as possible. (It should be noted that if you smell smoke, or the car is visibly on fire, exit the vehicle as quickly as possible). Be aware of traffic, and your own visibility to drivers on the road.
Consult and Exchange
In accidents not involving serious injury, take a quick visual inspection of your vehicle and speak with the individual(s) involved. Swap information, which includes:
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle’s registration and license number
- Proof of insurance (insurance provider/number)
If the other individual(s) are not able to exchange information (presumably due to injury) you MUST stay on the scene and call 911. Leaving the scene, when an injury has occurred or 911 have been notified is a crime and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Don’t say too much
There is no reason to talk about whose fault it was now. Even if the accident was clearly your fault, refrain from accepting blame at the time of the accident. If the other party’s insurance company contacts you after the accident, it’s wise to direct them to your own insurance representatives. If injury was involved or the crash was rather serious you may consider hiring a lawyer.
Chances are that you’ll be at the scene of the accident for a while — either waiting for emergency services, the police, tow truck, or a ride home. While you’re waiting take notes of the accident while your memory is fresh. Try to jot down as much as possible and include drawings and diagrams. Snap a few pictures of the vehicles with your phone as well.
Don’t forget your stuff
Before your car is towed, empty all your personal belongings out and take them with you. Often, it’s very difficult to get access to your car after a serious accident. Insurance companies will inspect the wreck at the tow yard before it’s sent to impound. So be sure to grab your stuff and say your goodbyes before it’s too late.
Contact your insurance company
Dealing with insurance companies and the red tape that goes along with car accidents can occasionally be more trying than the actual wreck itself. However, it’s a necessary evil so try and get it out of the way as soon as possible following the wreck. Car repair and personal injury claims have a set amount of time they can be filed by (depending on your insurance provider).