It can happen to anyone. You’re driving somewhere, and you’re suddenly involved in a collision. A car accident can be nerve-wracking, and traumatic, but knowing what to do afterward can help make the situation go more smoothly for you, and everyone involved. Let’s look at some critical steps to take after you’ve been involved in an auto accident.
Keep a Clear Head
After an accident occurs, it’s important to stay calm and handle the situation in an appropriate manner. Check to see if anyone is hurt. If it’s safe to do so, move your car to the roadside, away from traffic. Before you move your vehicle, be sure to take pictures, or at least sketch the accident scene. Showing the position of the vehicles, and the damage can be helpful to determine fault and liability. It’s easy to speak without thinking when you’re stressed and traumatized, but don’t take any responsibility for the accident, or admit to any fault. Only discuss the incident with a police officer or insurance claims agent, and don’t sign any paperwork agreeing to pay for damage.
Remain at the Scene
In a moment of panic, it can be tempting to just drive away, especially if the accident was minor, however, leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense. A relatively small accident could suddenly turn into an incident worthy of criminal prosecution. It’s vital to stay put until you’ve exchanged information with the other party, and the police have arrived, if needed.
Notify the Authorities
If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately. It’s also appropriate to call 911 if the other party seems to have been drinking, or if significant damage was incurred by either vehicle. While it’s always better to play it safe and call the police, some drivers choose not to have the police come to the scene in the event of a minor accident. In those cases, you may still need to file an accident report with the police so that your insurance provider may process the claim.
Gather Information and Document the Details
After a collision, it’s important to record all pertinent information. You’ll need to document certain details, including the date, time, and location of the incident. You should also write down a detailed description of what occurred, including the estimated speeds of the vehicles involved. Other relevant details include the road conditions, and weather at the time of the accident. Be sure to exchange information with the other driver, such as names, phone numbers, and insurance information.
These guidelines can help you through those traumatic moments immediately following a car accident. Once these initial steps have been taken, you’ll need to call or make an appointment with your insurance provider or attorney right away to report the accident and get the claims process started. While a car accident can be a scary experience, a little common sense and a clear action plan can help you handle the situation in a calm and competent manner.
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