Accidents happen. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, about 6 million car accidents occur in the United States each year. Fortunately, not all numbers comprise fatal accidents. Instead, many comprise property damages– that is damages done to one’s car. Yet, one in three accidents do involve human injuries, and amongst that fraction, two in three accidents comprise fatal injuries.
Regardless of how fatal an accident is, car accidents are a high-stress affair. One should know how to handle the repercussions, whether or not one is at fault. Preparation can help facilitate one’s ability to file a car insurance claim as well as protect one from worse case scenarios, such as being falsely accused for the accident.
Here’s a guide on what to do after a car accident.
Check Yourself and Your Passengers’ Well-being
Accidents are a shocking affair. After an intense collision, check yourself for injuries. If injured, call 911 or ask someone to do so. If the injuries are fatal, do not move; wait for emergency personnel. If you’re either not injured or the injuries are mild/ bearable, check on your car’s other passengers. If others are injured, likewise call emergency services.
If the accident is a fender bender or minor collision, likewise, check for your passenger’s and your well-being. Do not leave any children, animals, elders, or disabled passengers locked inside a hot vehicle. Leave the engine on as if you were making a quick run at a store or gas station. If carrying children young enough to sit in a car seat, do not remove them from their seat, instead wait for first responders to remove them from their car seats and check for injuries; the same applies for incapacitated people or non-ambulatory elders.
Stop and Protect the Scene
If you’ve hit a car, do not drive away from the scene no matter how big or small the accident may be. Meanwhile, do not exit your car if you’re the recipient of a car accident. First, pull your car over to a safe and well-lit corner, not far away from the scene. Public spaces are preferred as one may not always know the intentions of the other driver; accidents can sometimes be staged or targeted. Stay calm and use emergency flashers to alert any incoming cars. If you cannot move your car, passengers are advised to move at a safe distance away from the collision.
Determine if it’s safe talking to the other driver without needing the police. If so, hide and protect any valuables before exiting your car. While it is natural to engage in small talk with the other driver, avoid discussing who is at fault for the accident.
Call for Help & Exchange Information
Regardless how big or small the accident is, it is important to call the police, some states even require it. Learn your state’s emergency numbers. Call fire and rescue if anyone shows any injuries. When calling 911, know the location of the accident; if you don’t know, ask someone else. Emergency services will ask for the city, street name, and the number of the closest house nearby.
When it’s safe to engage, exchange numbers with the other driver. Keep important information in your car like license and registration, proof of insurance, and the name and number of your insurance provider. Only exchange insurance and contact information; in worst scenarios, saying more can be used against you. Finally, record/ take pictures of any evidence from the scene.
Once you’re looking to repair your car, look for an approved car collision center. Specialized in accidents and repairs, these centers are preferable to auto shops as they offer affordable prices and are fast-actors.