Guide on What To Do In A Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident, no matter how minor it is, is a horrific experience. What follows after can even be more daunting, especially if someone sustains injuries. Given that car accidents can happen anywhere and anytime, knowing what to do if you get caught up in one is vital. Imagine being involved in an accident at night or in a remote area. What should you do? Should you call for help? What measures should you undertake to ensure everyone is safe? Should you involve the police? Here is a guide that will give you tips on what to do if, unfortunately, you are involved in a car accident.
This article should not be construed as legal advice and isn’t a substitute for proper legal advice.
1. Be calm
Yes. Easier said than done. Be calm. Even in the chaos of a car accident. Remaining calm in an accident will help you deal with the ordeal easier. Whether you are involved in a car accident alone or with other parties, being calm will help you take stock of the accident and make necessary adjustments. You may be overcome by a series of emotions be it fear, stress, anger, guilt and even nervousness. Staying in the car for a moment and taking deep breaths can help you maintain calmness in an accident.
2. Check for injuries and ensure everyone is safe
Check yourself and all passengers for any visible injuries. If anyone appears hurt, call for help immediately. If you are seriously injured, do not try to move until help arrives. If you think it is unsafe to get out of the car, turn the hazard lights and ensure your safety belt remains fastened. In case of a minor accident and it’s safe to get out of the car, set up warning triangles, orange cones and emergency flares in the accident scene. Also, ensure you move the car to a safe spot that does not pose danger to other motorists or obstruct oncoming traffic. If you cannot move the car, get everyone in a safe spot away from oncoming vehicles.
3. Take notes of the crash
The accident details will be required by the relevant authorities and even your insurer. If you are not hurt, ensure you take all notes and can describe the accident in writing. And if you can, take photos. This will come in handy in determining who is at fault for the accident. Whether you think you are at fault for the accident or not, do not admit that you are wrong as you could be implicated if the case gets to court. Rather, demonstrate proper concern for the hurt persons and ensure help is on the way.
Exchange contact and insurance info with the other driver. In cases where the other driver does not have insurance, get valid contact details. Among the details you need to get include:
- The name, phone number and address
- The license number
- The insurance details including the policy number
- The make of the car, year, model and the license plate number
- If any police are present, you should write down their name, badge numbers and the accident record number
Record details such as where each car was and the lane. Also, get details of the witnesses if there were any, including their names and contact details.
4. To file a claim or not?
Car insurance will safeguard you against financial burdens when an accident occurs. Property damage liability and bodily injury insurance will provide coverage for other parties involved in an accident where you are at fault. Personal injury protection or medical payments coverage will cater for the cost incurred due to injuries that you sustain while collision coverage will cater for damage to your vehicle. However, you do not have to file a claim in every accident.
The decision on whether to file a claim or not depends on:
- Who was at fault for the accident
- Whether any party has sustained injuries
- The extent of both vehicle’s damage
- The type and amount of coverage that both parties have
If you have to make a claim, ensure you contact your insurer as soon as possible. Be ready to provide all information including the other driver’s info, photos, police report as well as a detailed record of the events that led to the accident. You will also be assigned an adjuster who will assess injuries and damages and determine how much the insurer will compensate.
5. Talk to an attorney
Car accidents can be complicated. No matter how minor it seems, you might want to talk to a car accident attorney as you never know what repercussions can occur. The attorney can also help you in the claims settlement with your insurer.
Now that we have looked at what you should do in the event of a car accident, let’s look at what you should NOT do if you are involved in an accident.
- Do not flee the accident scene- Whether you think the other party is at fault or not, or assume that the accident is minor, fleeing an accident scene could result in criminal charges.
- Do not blame another party for the accident- This can be difficult, especially if it’s obvious that you were not in the wrong. As opposed to finger-pointing, let the police and the insurer sort the details out.
- Do not admit guilt- Sometimes, you can be at fault for an accident. However, do not admit blame or make statements that can be taken as an admission of guilt.
- Do not opt for a quick settlement- The insurer may ask for a quick settlement. While this can be tempting to take, you may end up being short-changed. In case of medical settlements, ensure you are fully evaluated before you sign anything. Remember you cannot pursue more compensation once you agree to the settlement.
- Do not ignore unexpected costs when making a claim- The costs of a vehicle repair can go beyond basic vehicle repairs. Most people ignore these costs and get insufficient settlements.
Hopefully, you will get back on the road after the accident. One thing to check, however, is the cost of auto insurance premiums. Most insurers tend to increase the premiums after the occurrence of an accident. If you feel that the increase in the insurance cost is unfair, feel free to compare rates with other insurers and get a better deal.