Getting into an automobile accident can be a traumatic experience. Even if you aren’t physically injured, you may feel dazed and confused, and some people even may start to panic. As much as it may be the last thing on your mind at the time, there are several things that you need to do so that you will be able to accurately report the accident and make an insurance claim.
The good news is that it isn’t that complicated: When you are involved in an accident you should first deal with any injuries, then handle the insurance details. To be more specific, here’s what to do step by step:
- Calm and collect yourself if necessary
If you feel overwhelmed right after the accident, take a minute to calm yourself. Try taking deep breaths and counting to 10 slowly. It may take a few attempts at doing so, but you should begin to feel a bit calmer.
- Check for injuries
First check if you or your passengers are injured, then check if anyone from the other vehicle (or vehicles) are injured too. If you aren’t sure, call an ambulance just in case – but don’t try to perform any medical treatment yourself unless you are qualified as it could make things worse.
- Move the vehicles out of traffic if possible
Assuming the accident was minor, you and the other driver can move your cars out of the way of traffic so that it doesn’t cause a jam or run the risk of further accidents. Ideally you should have a traffic cone or warning triangle that you can put up to let incoming traffic know that there’s been an accident.
- Inform the police
While road rules differ from place to place, as a rule of thumb you should inform the police as soon as there is an accident. In some places you may need to go to the police station yourself to make a police report for minor accidents, whereas in others you can simply call the police.
- Take down notes and notify your insurance agent
It is important that you note down any and all relevant information for the insurance claim, including the other driver’s details as well as that of any potential witnesses. Additionally you should note the date, time, and location as well as a description of the vehicles involved, and the damage to all vehicles in the accident. It helps if you have a car accident log sheet in your car that lists the details you should require and gives you a diagram that you can use to mark out any damage. If you don’t, you could check with your insurance agent when you notify them.
Remember that throughout this ordeal you should always remain civil and politely deal with the other driver. Emotions may run high and some drivers may blame you for the accident – regardless of whether it was actually your fault. If this is the case and you are unsure of your legal rights, contact an auto accident attorney who can advise you on the next steps. Always remember that regardless of who you feel was at fault, never concede that it was yours prior to speaking with a lawyer. In fact, it is best to simply avoid speaking about fault entirely to anyone at the time of the accident.
If anyone asks you to sign any document – don’t. The only documents that you may have to sign are the police report or insurance claim that your insurance agent will provide. Assuming tempers start to flare, just back away and let the police handle the situation.
Now that you know what to do if you’re involved in a car accident it may not be as confusing. That being said you may still momentarily forget – which is why it helps to keep a short note of the steps that you should take somewhere in your car just in case or have a log sheet with that information.