What to Do in the Event of a Car Accident
As much as we try to avoid them, nearly everyone is involved in a car accident at some point in their lives. Whether a minor fender-bender, or a major collision, these events are incredibly stressful and can leave us frazzled and disoriented. For that reason, it’s critically important to be aware of the steps that you should take immediately following an accident. In this article, we’ll discuss those steps so that you can be prepared.
Note: These are merely suggestions and are in no way intended to supersede the directives handed down by your employer or insurance company. Be sure to always follow their instructions in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
Check Yourself and Passengers for Injuries
In the moments immediately following an accident, many people find themselves dazed and disoriented. Take a moment to catch your breath and gather yourself. Adrenaline will likely be coursing through your body and you may not feel like you’ve been injured. However, it’s important to take the time to thoroughly check yourself and your passengers to make sure that everyone is alright.
Get to a Safe Place
If you are able, and if it is safe to do so, move your vehicle out of harm’s way, like to a shoulder. If you are not able to move your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers, and get yourself to a safe area. However, be sure not to leave the scene of the accident.
As soon as you’re able, dial 911 and inform them of the accident. They will likely ask for details such as your location, the number of vehicles or people involved, if there are any injuries, and your contact information. Be sure to speak slowly and clearly so that they can understand you and dispatch the appropriate personnel.
If there are no injuries, or if the property damage is estimated to be very minor, the police may elect to not come to the scene. Even so, filing an official report may still be a wise thing to do. The dispatcher should be able to guide you on the procedures for filing a report, either in person at the station, or online. That report will be helpful to you and your insurance company in the settlement of any claim filed.
Avoid Admitting Fault
Most employers and insurance companies recommend that drivers not claim any fault at the time of an accident. This is true even if you believe that you were in the wrong. Motor vehicle accidents are complex situations. While you may view the situation one way, witnesses, police officers, and the other party may have a different perspective. Any statement of apology or admittance of culpability can end up hurting your case. Let the professionals determine who is actually at fault.
Try to gather as much information as possible. Write down things such as: the names of all parties involved (including passengers), the make, model, and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved, insurance information, contact information of all involved parties, witnesses, and responding officers, and the location of the accident. Notate things such as weather and traffic conditions. If you have a cell phone camera, be sure to take plenty of pictures of the scene as well.
Notify the Appropriate Parties As Soon As Possible
Depending on your company’s policy, you may be required to contact your supervisor, insurance company, fleet management company, or all three. Be sure to know the proper procedure beforehand. Contact those parties as soon as possible and provide them with all of the information that you gathered at the scene. They will inform you of any additional information required or next steps that need to be taken.
Vehicle accidents are incredibly traumatic events that happen to even the most seasoned drivers. However, following these steps will hopefully make a stressful situation a little less worrisome.