In the United States, there are about 6 million car accidents each year.
Accidents happen due to alcohol, distracted drivers, speeding, and many other reasons. Although you travel safe, sometimes no one can prevent accidents. However, you can take control of what happens right after.
The more information you have the better prepared you will be.
If you’ve been in a car accident, here’s what to do next.
Safety Should be Your First Priority
Being in a car accident is stressful for most people. The number one thing to remember is not to panic. Once the accident happens, it’s your responsibility to make sure it doesn’t escalate.
If your car is still drivable and you are conscious, you should stop your car and move to the side of the road, and turn on your hazards. Keep in mind, it’s illegal not to stop, also known as a hit-and-run.
The next thing you should do is identify any injuries you might have sustained in the accident. If there are any passengers in your car, check with them about any possible injuries.
You might also want to check on the passengers of the other vehicle. If no one sustained major injuries, make a note of it for the future.
If anyone involved got injured or the vehicles are blocking the road, you should call 911 immediately.
Should You Call the Police?
If the accident wasn’t major, you might not want to call the police and keep it off the record. However, the other party might have a different opinion. They could see it as a red flag if you don’t want to call the police.
Calling the police will help you have a legal record of the accident. Your insurance company might want to see a copy of the police report before they process your claim. You will also have a record in case the other party wants to file a claim against you.
However, if the following happens, you should always call the police:
- The driver left the scene of the accident
- You suspect the other driver is under the influence
- You think the other driver might not have insurance
- The other person caused the accident
You have 24 hours to notify the police of what happened and make a report.
Talk to the Other Party
After the accident, it’s important you talk to the other party in order to check if everyone is okay and to exchange details.
Although you might feel like apologizing for the injuries or the accident, you must never do this. When you talk to the other party, you must only exchange information.
Wait to explain what happened after the police get there. If it seems like you admitted fault, even if it wasn’t your fault, they might want to file a claim against you.
What you can do is take down the information from the other people. Write down the name and contact information of the people in the other car. You might also want to collect contact information if there were other witnesses.
Getting the other person’s insurance information is also a really important step. Verify the information on the insurance card matched the vehicle. If the person driving the vehicle at the time of the accident is not the registered owner, make sure you get the name of the owner as well.
Also, don’t forget to share your insurance information with them as well.
Record the Following Details
After an accident, it’s normal to feel shaken up and not be able to think straight. You should still try to collect important details that could be useful later on.
Take notes or pictures of the color, make, model, and license plate of the vehicle or vehicles. Also, don’t forget to write down the time and date when the accident happened as well any other information you might recall.
Try to remember the time of day, weather, road conditions, and any other details you think might be relevant.
Take pictures of all of the vehicles involved so you have photographic evidence of the accident. You should also take pictures of the surroundings of the accident. Did any lamp posts get damaged, and so on?
If you crashed into a parked car, make sure you leave your contact information on the windshield even if you think no one saw. You could get in a lot of trouble if a witness reports you.
It might be tough to remember all the details, so check out this useful guide for what should come next.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After you seek medical attention and file a police report, you should call your insurance company to make a claim.
If you’re not injured and have the information available, try calling your insurance agent at the scene. It might be more useful to do so while the information is fresh in your mind.
When you call your insurance agent, try to have the following information available:
- Your policy number so they can pull you up
- The driver’s name and contact information
- The registration of the other vehicles
- The insurance company and policy of the other drivers
- Any other information you think it’s useful
Some people don’t want to have a claim on their record if the damage is minor. If you don’t plan on making a claim or repairing your vehicle, you should still notify your insurance agent.
The last thing you want is for the other party to try and file a claim. It’s important to keep transparency between you and your insurance company.
What To Do After You’ve Been in a Car Accident
After you’ve been in a car accident, chances are you might be shaken up. It’s important to keep these steps in mind in order to put the event behind you as quickly as possible.
Remember to always think about safety, file a police report, exchange information, and file a claim.
If you enjoyed these tips and would like to learn more, check out our life hacks section.