What To Do After A Car Accident

Being involved in a car accident is one of the scariest and roughest experiences in life. After the emotional and physical damage, you may still be worried financially, not to mention a bit confused about what to do after a car accident. The worst part is that it’s not uncommon for a person to have multiple accidents in a lifetime.

Because of the huge risks associated with an auto accident, it is extremely important to know what strategic steps to take to ensure that the situation, claim, and finances are handled effectively and with the best possible outcome for you. Below, find the most appropriate steps on how to handle a car accident, what to do and when, whether your at-fault or not:

1. Maintain composure. A car accident is an unnerving experience that can cause a person to act irrationally, and say or do things that might hurt their claim later. Remember that accidents happen. Even if the accident was your fault, breaking down, crying, complaining, and/or yelling will not help the situation. Unless your car has burst into flames, which almost never happens, take a moment and compose yourself before you approach the other party. Anything you say or do afterwards can have consequences when you are filing your claim or dealing with the insurance company.

2. Aid injured individuals. If the accident is serious enough to cause injury, please help injured passengers. If you are the injured party, try to assess the injury before moving, as this may cause further injury. If someone else is hurt, calm them down, call an ambulance (if needed), and make sure to keep them immobile until the paramedics arrive. This could help minimize medical costs associated with the accident, and prevent someone else from finding you liable for additional injuries sustained after the accident. Also remember that doing too much can make you susceptible to litigation in the future.

3. Get out of the way to avoid any further accidents with oncoming traffic. If there were no serious injuries and the vehicles involved are still operable, move them off the road when reasonable to do so. Getting off the road will allow other drivers to get where they need to be, and provide more space for the police and injured parties to be taken care of.

4. Call the police or the appropriate authorities. Even if the accident was minor, or you were the at-fault party, call the police. This helps create a third-party record of the event, which can help with processing your claim later, serve as credibility in the unfortunate event that the case has to go to court or the other party decides to bend the truth. If you are at-fault, do not admit guilt or claim that you are responsible. Simply offer the facts and let the officer make a judgement call. Again, this is a situation where the things you say or do can be used against you later on.

5. Call your insurance company and report the incident. The longer you wait to call your insurance company, the harder it will be to remember the details of the accident. Another benefit of calling your agent right away is the other party is right there to get information from. Your insurance adjuster can also assess the damage at the scene of the accident to avoid having parties exaggerate claims later on.

6. Take information and photos for evidence. Take notes about the accident, and if your not at-fault, try to get witness accounts or testimony of what happened. In addition, take pictures of the damage or lack thereof to the vehicles involved, and collect the other driver’s personal and insurance information. Everyone has a camera on their smartphone these days, so take dozens of pictures from every angle so your claims can not be disputed or denied.

7. Tell the truth to the police and your insurance company. The last thing you want during this process is for the police or your insurance company to realize that you are dishonest, and doubt you on everything from that point on. Even if the facts of the case paint you in a bad light, be sure to be as honest and accurate as possible to the police and your insurance agent. Who knows – the lie you come up with might hurt you even more.

8. Don’t take the blame from the start. Even if you rear end a parked car, don’t accept blame and offer to pay for anything. Let the police do their job, investigate the accident, and come to their own conclusion. If you are at fault, they will let you know; otherwise, don’t volunteer yourself and bias their decision.

9. Do not offer cash to settle the damages. Sometimes we get fearful of our car insurance rates increasing, and we try to avoid the insurance company’s involvement. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make, because there will be no proof of a cash transaction and the other driver may still decide to come after you for damages. If you are a safe, responsible driver with a clean driving history, your car insurance company will not let a small claim affect your premiums.

A few months after a car accident, one important step most drivers forget to take is to re-evaluate your car insurance coverage and company. If your carrier handled everything perfectly and you are extremely satisfied with them, it may still be important for you to shop around and compare policies, quotes and companies.  Find out if you currently have the best and cheapest car insurance available.