It is likely that at some point in your life, you will be involved in a car accident. According to the National Safety Council, there are more than 10 million car accidents per year in the United States, from minor fender benders and scrapes to multi-car pileups. Ten million accidents per year equates to 27,000 traffic accidents per day. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared for this unfortunate situation when it arises. Here are some helpful tips to guide you through the stress of being involved in a car crash:
1. Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Area
This may seem like common sense; however, when you have just been in an accident, your adrenaline will be pumping and it may be hard to think clearly. If possible, move your car over to the shoulder. If your car is too damaged to drive it, make sure your hazard lights are on to warn other drivers. Check that it is safe to exit your vehicle before doing so.
2. Check for Injuries
Even if the accident seems minor, check on others involved. This includes you, any passengers in your vehicle, and other drivers and pedestrians. Avoid admitting any fault. Just check that no one is hurt. If someone is hurt:
3. Call the Police
Having the police come out and make a report, even where the accident may be minor, can make your life a lot easier when dealing with your insurance company and other drivers’ insurance companies. The police will take statements at the scene and may be helpful in determining which party is at fault. Again, avoid admitting fault. Give a concise summary of the facts to the police and let them conclude their investigation.
4. Exchange Information
You should have certain information and documents, such as insurance carrier and driver’s license, on you at all times while driving. Make sure you get the following from any other parties involved in the accident:
- Names of all drivers and passengers
- Contact information for all involved parties
- Copies/photos of driver’s licenses
- License plate numbers of all vehicles involved
- Makes and models of all vehicles involved
- Insurance information
- Location of the accident
- Names and contact information of any eyewitnesses
5. Document the Scene
Take photos of the damage to all vehicles and any applicable road signs or lane markings. If possible, snap some photos of the accident scene before the vehicles are moved or separated.
6. Report the Claim
Call your insurance company right away to report the above information. You will also need to file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report within 5 days. Mail a copy of the Crash Report to the police department in the city or town where the accident occurred, your insurance company, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
7. Contact an Attorney
If you were injured, whether through your fault or not, you are entitled to certain insurance benefits as a result of the accident. A personal injury attorney will navigate the process for you. If you were injured through no fault of your own, an attorney will also help you obtain compensation for your injury from the at-fault driver.