They say that getting behind the wheel everyday is the most dangerous thing we do, and it’s undeniably true. The amount of fatal crashes varies by location, but they thankfully aren’t nearly as common as other types of crashes. The majority of crashes result solely in property damage, although injuries are unfortunately not uncommon. As many precautions as we might take, accidents are unavoidable for the majority of us, and it’s estimated that individuals file a claim at least one approximately every 18 years. Facing the fact that a collision is likely to happen a few times in each of our lives, it’s important to know what to do if you find yourself in a car accident.
Whether it’s a simple scrape-up in the parking lot or a more severe collision, car accidents are shocking events. Feelings of panic are common, and it may be difficult to think of what to do at first. Take some deep breaths, and prepare to take stock.
The first thing you’ll need to do is check if you or your passengers are injured. If so, you’ll need to dial 911 if possible, answer the dispatcher’s questions, and follow their instructions until help arrives. If you keep an emergency kit in your car, ask them about using it.
Assuming everyone is okay, you’ll need to turn off the car and check to see if it’s safe to exit. If so, you can evacuate your vehicle and check on the other party. If the car is incapacitated or if there’s a dispute over who is at fault, it’s generally best not to move your vehicle. Typically, the only reason you would want to move the vehicle is if it’s positioned in such a way that’s likely to cause another accident.
Assessing the Damage
Once you’ve ensured that everyone is okay, you’ll need to see how bad the damage is. If it’s something minor, like scratched paint or a dent, you can handle things yourself. If the damage is major, if anyone was hurt, or if you aren’t sure how bad things actually are, you’ll need to call the police. In this case, a report will be filed, and you’ll want a copy for your insurance claim.
In either case, you’ll want to take photos of the scene and the damages. Try to take some notes on what happened, as well. Make sure to get good descriptions of the vehicles involved. You’ll also need to exchange driver information. Take down the license plate number of the other vehicle, and ask for the driver’s license number, as well. Naturally, you’ll need to exchange insurance information. If either of you is not the owner of the vehicle, you’ll also need their information. It’s worth remembering that sometimes, even if you think an accident was your fault, it may not have been. Regardless of what the other driver says, it’s best not to admit fault at the scene.
Filing a Claim
Considering how easy it is to rack up significant costs in a car accident, you’ll likely want to file an insurance claim for damages. This is where all your evidence gathering will come in handy. This will make it more difficult for the insurance company to minimize or outright deny the claim. If there is a great amount at stake, it can be worthwhile to get an attorney involved. This is especially true if you’ve suffered due to the negligence of another driver or if you’re seeking payment for psychological/emotional trauma in addition to property damage and medical expenses. Car crashes are traumatic events that can have long term effects for those involved. Having an expert in your corner can make all the difference toward getting what you’re really owed.