The road can be a dangerous place. You may be a skillful driver and your vehicle may be equipped with a variety of driver safety features, but this doesn’t make you completely exempt from experiencing an accident. Outside factors – whether it’s another driver or an inanimate object – can cause a car accident to occur. In some cases, you might even be the driver at fault.
The truth is, anyone can get into an accident at any given time, so it’s important to know what to do in the unfortunate event that it happens to you.
For some of us, drivers education was years ago and we’ve likely forgotten what to do if an accident occurs. Here are actions to take after you’ve been involved in a car accident, so you can be prepared for whatever might happen behind the wheel of your buy here pay here used car.
#1 – Look for Injuries
The very first thing you should do is check yourself, and others involved in the accident, for injuries. If you or the other driver are injured, call 911 immediately. Try not to move until the emergency personnel have arrived at the scene. Doing so could cause complications.
#2 – Move Your Vehicle
If nobody is hurt and the vehicles are safe to drive, move them out of the way and to the side of the road. Remaining in the middle of the road could block traffic or result in another accident if other drivers aren’t paying attention. Turn on your hazard lights and find a safe spot to continue the process.
However, if either vehicle is totaled or it’s unclear which driver is responsible for the accident, you should leave the cars in place. You may also want to take pictures of the impact before either vehicle is moved to use as reference later on.
#3 – Call the Police
Regardless of the severity of the impact, calling the police can ensure the situation is properly handled. In fact, it’s legally required in some states. Once the responding officer arrives, tell them exactly what happened and stick to the facts. They’ll then file an accident report and examine the scene.
#4 – Document the Scene
To protect yourself and gather evidence, it’s a good idea to document the scene. Write down the name of the officer and ask for a copy of the accident report to give to your insurance company. Take pictures of the damage on either vehicle and the accident from different angles. You should also write down the names and addresses of everyone involved in the accident, including witnesses. This documentation can be used to support your claim.
#5 – Exchange Information
Once you’re in a safe place, exchange information with the other driver. This will make it easier if you need to communicate in the future. Make sure to write down their full name, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, license plate number, description of the vehicle, and the location of the accident.
#6 – Avoid Discussing Fault
When speaking with the other driver, avoid talking about who’s at fault. Once you file an insurance claim, the adjuster will consider the damage of the vehicles, information given to them by you and the other party, and other documents, like the police report or pictures, to hold the responsible driver accountable.
#7 – File a Claim
Call your insurance provider to report your claim. Your insurer will be able to give you further directions and can also tow your car if necessary. If you have any questions about the claims process, they’ll be able to help.
Once you’ve filed an auto insurance claim, an adjuster will look at the damage to determine fault and provide an estimate for repair costs. If you’re covered, your insurance will reimburse you for repairs or your vehicle’s actual cash value if it’s totaled. Car repairs can take anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the body shop’s availability and the amount of damage. Soon enough, you’ll be back behind the wheel.
Car accidents are jarring and stressful, but it’s important to stay calm throughout the entire situation. You should always make sure everyone is safe and unharmed before evaluating the incident. Once you alert the authorities and exchange information, you can file a claim to account for the accident and begin repairing your ride. Knowing how to handle a car accident will not only keep you safe, but can help you become more confident behind the wheel.