What to do after being involved in a car accident
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.