It’s what you hoped to avoid, but it has happened. You have just been in a car accident. You’re upset, stressed, confused and bewildered. Even a minor accident can be stressful as well as startling. Then, you have the injuries to deal with, alongside any and all damages to the vehicles involved. Now that you have dealt with the emotions, shock and anger of being in an accident, now is the time to try to be as calm as you can, and work to determine the extent of the vehicle’s damages as well as injuries. Let’s examine what you should do.
Keep Calm and Gather Your Thoughts
It’s a lot easier said than done, but it is very important that you remain as calm as possible. Sure, after an accident, your anger and stress levels rise. But after you accept what has happened, it will really pay off for you, to keep calm. Staying calm will allow you to talk to the other driver in a decent manner. The calmness will also allow you to document what happened. Once the officers arrive on the scene, you will be able to discuss what happened in a professional manner to the officers. So, cry, become angry… then embrace the calmness that will help carry you though your car accident situation.
Get /Receive Help
Now that you are calm, it’s time to call 911. If your accident happened on a public road, there is a great chance that another driver who was driving, has called the police, fire and medics on your behalf. You want to stay in your car, and then wait for the authorities to arrive. Even if it looks safe to exit your car, just remain in there and allow authorities to come on the scene so that they can look at things and begin to discuss the accident with all parties involved. Once police, fire and medic arrive, you want to tell them what happened, and if you feel any kind of pain anywhere. Was someone in your car injured? Allow your passenger an opportunity to discuss their injuries with authorities as well.
Take Photos and Write Down Information
Now that authorities have arrived and they have taken a statement from you, you can begin to take photos of the damages to your car. These days, we all have smart phones that are capable of providing clear, sharp and detailed photos. So, utilize your phone’s camera features to take photographs of the damages that your vehicle sustained. You also want to take the time to write down anything you can remember about the accident. For example, did the other driver, who hit you, slide into your vehicle before hitting it? Did another driver run a red light and then collide with you?
Try to write down your remembrance of the collision. Additionally, if there were any witnesses, try to get their names and phone numbers- and find out what they saw. Don’t forget to obtain the names and phone numbers of all drivers involved in the accident. You may also want to snap a photo of the license plates of the other driver’s vehicles too. If someone refuses to off their information to you, don’t argue with the person. Thankfully, the police will have that information and at the very least, you will have a photo of the person’s license plate.
Cooperation is Key
Once the police arrive, you want to ensure that you are able to cooperate with them and provide them with any and all documentation that they may ask for. The more cooperation that you provide to authorities, the better your car accident situation will be.
How Am I Paid for Damages to My Car?
Although you may have not been injured in the car accident, your car looks mangled. You want to provide a thorough account of what happened to your car insurance company, for a complete assessment of damages. So, how in the world will you be paid for those damages? After reporting the accident to your car insurance company, let’s examine three ways in which you can handle your damages. After you discuss your accident with your vehicle insurance company, there may be different procedures. But below is a general framework of the next steps.
Collision Coverage Under Your Insurance
Going though your car insurance company is generally the best and fastest way to get your car fixed. The repairs on your car should be paid out from your policy, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. You may have to pay a deductible, but that deductible should be returned to you if your vehicle insurance company is repaid by the defendant or the other driver’s car insurance company.
Liability Coverage Under the Defendant’s Insurance
If the other driver’s vehicle insurance company accepts fault for the accident you were just involved in, then there will be a standard amount that can be used to repair your car. Sometimes, car insurance companies can take several days or even a few weeks to decide whether to accept fault in the accident. So, unfortunately, you may have to deal with your vehicle not being repaired in timely manner.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Under Your Insurance
If the driver who caused the collision is not insured, or is not able to be positively identified, then you should still be protected under your vehicle insurance policy. You want to check to see if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Depending on the kind of accident you just had, you may have to still pay for the deductible.
Getting in a car accident is never convenient or fun. And even before your car accident happens, you want to take measures that ensure a smooth post-accident experience. So, what can you do now- even if you have not been in an accident?
- Review your car insurance policy– If something is not clear to you about your car insurance policy, call your insurance company and ask. Get details about your coverage and find out what coverage you need, that best suits your needs. It’s always to have good knowledge of your coverage, BEFORE an accident.
- Practice defensive driving habits– Sometimes, we as drivers are careful as we can be, and we have to be on the lookout for those folks who are texting while driving, and not paying attention. So, watch for those drivers who are not careful on the roads.
- Be a driver who is not distracted– We all live very busy lives these days. We have so many tasks to take care of. Sometimes we use our driving time to multi-task and get things done. But when driving our cars, driving needs to be the task that trumps all others. So, please do not text while drive. Even if you can delay a phone conversation after you exit your car, try to do that too.