The Next Steps: What to Do After a Car Accident?

It can happen in an instant and affect the rest of your life. Car accidents are serious matters and should be treated as such. After the accident, the report, and the tow truck, you need to continue living almost as if nothing happened. After such a dangerous and shocking event, you may even want to see a life insurance attorney to make sure your family is okay if anything were to happen to you.

A car accident is an upsetting thing to endure. There will be a lot of emotions and thoughts running through your head, and that is okay. You are not the first person to be in an accident, and you will not be the last. These things happen.

It is natural to feel distressed by a car accident, but nothing will be resolved if you let your emotions run wild. Take a few breaths, feel what you need to, and then calmly start to react and move forward. If you are lucky, your car may still be salvageable. To be able to move past this accident, you want to get your car repaired in the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective way possible.

  1. Assess the Damage

The immediate aftermath of an accident is a stressful and chaotic time. There is a lot to do and think about, but you have to start by calling 911 and assessing the damage to yourself and your car. 

Check on yourself or any passengers for any injuries. A minor accident may leave a passenger with whiplash, while a major accident could lead to scratches, bruises, or broken bones. If you find any concerns, call an ambulance and get immediate medical attention. 

If you can, take pictures of the damage done to your car with your phone or an available camera. Note any personal property within the vehicle that may have been damaged in the accident; computers, CD players, car seats, etc.; anything that you will have to repair or replace.

Leave the car and the accident as it is so that the police and insurance agents can assess the situation. They will direct you to move your car if the scene of the accident interferes with traffic or is dangerous to other drivers.

Do your best to remember the incident. Calmly go through the events and write a note on your phone or a piece of paper. If the accident involves another car and a driver, do not accuse the other person, place blame, or be defensive of your own driving. Just report things honestly from your perspective. 

All of the damage you noted (personal, of the car, etc.) will be important in the next step.

  • Talk to Your Insurance

You should speak to your insurance company as soon as possible. If there is a safe opportunity at the scene of the accident, you should call them then and have an insurance agent walk you through the steps of what you should and should not say.  If not make sure you at least call your company within 24 hours of the accident.

When you assess the damage to your car, take note of any crucial issues that could lead to further damage. For example, a broken window leaves your car open to the elements, which creates new issues beyond the accident. Insurance providers only cover damage that occurs during an accident, not post-accident damage, so make sure you get this resolved.

Present your story, pictures, and any medical records to your insurance company and claims adjustor so that they can figure out how much will be covered and how much you are entitled to.

  • Choose a Shop

Though not the case in most states, your insurance may have a designated or authorized auto-body shop that they will send you to get repairs done. Otherwise, your vehicle’s lender may offer a list of preferred local mechanics. Typically, you are able to choose where you want to take your car for repairs.

If possible, choose an auto body shop that you trust and that you have worked with before. If not, make sure the shop you work with is properly licensed and certified. Your car brand’s auto shop may be a good option, or you can consult AAA since they vet repair shops for trustworthiness.

When you visit a shop, they will assess the damage to your vehicle and determine how much a repair will cost. Ask the mechanic to show you and explain the damage to your car. Your car is “totaled” if it is either damaged beyond repair or repairs will cost more than what the car is worth.

  • Confirm Repairs

Once you have found a shop and left your car to be repaired, it is on you to follow up and confirm the status of repairs. Repairs don’t happen overnight, but you should remain aware of the progress of your vehicle. If the process is taking longer than expected, contact your insurance company and the garage to see how you can speed up the process. 

Once you have your car back, make sure you get an itemized list of all the repairs and the estimated costs. You may want this list before the mechanics start working so that you can confirm with the insurance agents that the work will be covered. The Insurance company may have a list of requirements that the mechanic should follow when repairing the car.

A car accident is a scary event that happens all too often. Luckily, there are people out there who know what they are doing and are able to help you in the aftermath. Remember to stay calm and follow these easy steps to put the accident in your rear-view mirror.

About the Author

Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with Chad Boonswang, Esq., a life insurance attorney in Philadelphia.

DIY

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