What to do after be­ing in­volved in a car ac­ci­dent

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - AUTOMOTIVE -

Car ac­ci­dents hap­pen ev­ery day, and rare is the ex­pe­ri­enced driver who has not been in­volved in at least one ac­ci­dent dur­ing his or her time be­hind the wheel. Driv­ers or pas­sen­gers who have been in­volved in pre­vi­ous ac­ci­dents may re­act calmly when in­volved in another ac­ci­dent, but the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in a car ac­ci­dent can be shock­ing to those peo­ple who have never be­fore been in­volved in a car crash.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, there were 1.25 mil­lion road traf­fic deaths across the globe in 2013. But not ev­ery traf­fic ac­ci­dent in­volves a fa­tal­ity, and many are mi­nor in­ci­dents in which all in­volved par­ties walk away un­harmed. Un­for­tu­nately, all traf­fic ac­ci­dents, how­ever mi­nor they may be, have fi­nan­cial ram­i­fi­ca­tions, and it’s in driv­ers’ and pas­sen­gers’ best in­ter­est to fa­mil­iar­ize them­selves with the right way to re­spond to traf­fic ac­ci­dents should they find them­selves in a crash.

— Dial emer­gency ser­vices. After pulling over and out of traf­fic, driv­ers and pas­sen­gers in­volved in traf­fic ac­ci­dents should dial 9-1-1 emer­gency ser­vices. If driv­ers are in­ca­pable of pulling onto the shoul­der or out of the way of on­com­ing traf­fic, im­me­di­ately put on the ve­hi­cle’s haz­ard lights and dial 9-1-1. En­list­ing the help of emer­gency ser­vices like 9-1-1, even when no one ap­pears to be in­jured and no ve­hi­cles seem to be dam­aged, is nec­es­sary be­cause the pres­ence of a neu­tral third party like a po­lice of­fi­cer or emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cian can be help­ful should the ac­ci­dent ul­ti­mately lead to le­gal ac­tion.

— Exchange in­sur­ance in­for­ma­tion. After each driver has pulled over and is out of harm’s way, at­tempt to exchange in­sur­ance in­for­ma­tion. If you lost your in­sur­ance card or can’t find it in your ve­hi­cle, don’t panic. Sim­ply use your mo­bile phone to call your in­sur­ance com­pany and get your pol­icy num­ber. Po­lice may let you off the hook if you can pro­vide proof of in­sur­ance, even if you don’t have any such proof in your ve­hi­cle. If the other driver ap­pears irate and/or con­fronta­tional, wait un­til the po­lice ar­rive to exchange in­sur­ance in­for­ma­tion and do your best to avoid this per­son.

— Ob­tain a po­lice re­port. Po­lice re­ports are vital, even when ac­ci­dents are mi­nor. In­sur­ance com­pa­nies may not pay dam­ages if no po­lice re­port has been filed and the in­volved par­ties have dif­fer­ing ac­counts of the ac­ci­dent. And driv­ers’ pre­mi­ums may in­crease if they are in­volved in an ac­ci­dent in which no one is deemed at-fault. Al­ways pro­tect your­self after a traf­fic ac­ci­dent by call­ing the po­lice and ob­tain­ing their of­fi­cial re­port of the in­ci­dent. Also, ask the re­spond­ing of­fi­cer if you are re­quired by law to re­port the ac­ci­dent to the lo­cal mo­tor ve­hi­cle agency. Some ar­eas re­quire this, while oth­ers do not.

— Take pho­tos. If you have a smart­phone or cam­era on hand, take as many pho­tos of the ac­ci­dent as you can with­out risk­ing your safety. Time-stamped pho­tos may help you should a law­suit or other le­gal ac­tion be taken in the fu­ture.

Car ac­ci­dents can be scary, and know­ing how to re­spond to ac­ci­dents can help driv­ers and pas­sen­gers make the best of un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tions.

All traf­fic ac­ci­dents have fi­nan­cial ram­i­fi­ca­tions, and it’s in driv­ers’ and pas­sen­gers’ best in­ter­est to fa­mil­iar­ize them­selves with the right way to re­spond to traf­fic ac­ci­dents should they find them­selves in a crash.

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