Being involved in a car accident is an unfortunate event and sometimes a traumatic experience, especially when you’re not at fault. Keeping your composure during and after the incident is essential. It’s easier said than done. Yet regardless of the actual damage, you should always be ready to deal with these circumstances when they occur as well as their consequences.
To avoid further complications and undesirable disputes, follow these useful recommendations just in case you find yourself in a mishap on the road.
During the Accident
As a responsible and ethical car owner, you should drive with your seatbelt on at all times and keep an emergency medical kit in your trunk. Your passengers must also wear their seatbelts onboard. As there truly is no way to foresee an accident, it’s best to stay on the safe side. However, there are important reflexes to adopt when the crash happens:
- Upon impact, do not brace yourself too hard. You just need to remain relaxed to prevent further unwanted injury. Your seatbelt and airbags are there to ensure you don’t get shaken around in the car.
- Past the initial collision and adrenaline boost, do not panic. Keep breathing steadily. Never be tempted to leave the scene, even in the case of a minor crash; this is strictly illegal and could get you in more trouble.
- Check yourself for injuries. Pat your body and make sure you’re not bleeding and that nothing is broken.
- If you have anyone else with you onboard, turn to them and ensure they’re well. Ask your occupants to remain calm and assure them that everything is going to be fine.
After the Accident
At this point, everyone is still shaking up. Now is the time to de-escalate the tension so you can effectively protect yourself as well as your interests. There are a number of steps you can take to manage the situation well:
- Put your flashers on, make sure the surroundings are safe and turn off your engine before slowly exiting the vehicle. Do not move your car. Set up flares or safety warning lights to prevent further accidents with incoming cars.
- Limit the conversation with the other involved party to a strict minimum; only discuss the details of the matter with the police, medical teams, and insurance company.
- Collect the other party’s relevant information, including plate number and car description, full name, phone number, address and complete insurance information for your records. It’s also a good idea to ask witnesses for their contact info should you need to solicit them later on.
- As a general rule and precautionary measure, you should never admit responsibility or liability for the accident. Even if you’re being pressured by the other party, at this stage, you do not have any legal obligation to commit towards them. Check out Georgia Auto Law for the ultimate checklist on what to do after an accident.
Dealing with Authorities
- Call the police immediately. Officers need to establish a police report on the accident as a standard procedure. Even in the event of a minor injury or damage, always keep your phone with you to dial numbers during emergencies.
- When the police arrive, cooperate as well as you can to help them file an accurate report. Make sure to tell them exactly what happened, with no approximate guessing or speculating. Answer questions to the best of your abilities. If they ask if you or any passengers are injured, it’s best to tell them you’re not certain instead of a plain “no”. Injuries resulting from automobile accidents can often show up weeks, if not months, afterward.
- Record any instances of injury to your property and/or to yourself. People who live in Kentucky, for example, know that they have specific lawyers that specialize in car accident cases. If a person needed to sue someone after a car accident, then they would know exactly which law firm to count on for such cases. Remember to photograph the scene with your cell phone camera in a visible and accurate manner for evidence to be presented to your lawyer.
Typically, you will need to deal with your insurance company to file for an insurance claim in order to prevent yourself from spending thousands of dollars on car repair and medical bills. Here is what you should do:
- Your insurance representatives need to be notified of the accident as early as possible. Call them immediately and let them walk you through the standard procedure to officialize the claim.
- Provide them with all the information that you’ve been able to compile at the site of the accident. It is important that all the necessary info is accurate.
- As insurance law can vary from one state to another, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your state’s commissioner to be better informed on the laws in effect.
- Be certain to know what is covered by your insurance plan in advance and invest in some extras to avoid being caught unprepared. Better safe than sorry!
Seeking Appropriate Medical Help
If you underwent injury during the accident, always make sure to get the proper medical attention. Once you’ve dealt with the police and you’re free to be on your way, it is advisable that you:
- Visit your local hospital for a complete check-up. Do not minimize even the slightest bruise or sprain. The Doctor examining you will make sure to detect any symptoms for potential conditions or illnesses. Follow his advice on how to boost your recovery.
- Seek psychological help. Car accidents are very afflictive and can induce PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depending on their severity. If you notice changes in your behavior, including mood swings, depression, loss of appetite, insomnia or anything unusual, it’s best to reach out to a specialist for assessment and, if needed, follow therapy sessions.
- Keep a record of all medical bills to be submitted to your insurance company for health-related claims and compensation.
There are around 6 million automobile accidents taking place yearly in the United States. As we increasingly rely on cars to remain active and move around, it is crucial that we are aware of our rights and responsibilities should we ever be involved in a crash. Keep these recommendations handy to be prepared to deal with accidents in a way that guarantees your interests, personal health and well-being.