Involved In an Auto Accident? Here's What to Do.
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 15, 2012)
A simple fender bender can be an intensely stressful situation, and when some one gets injured it is only worse. It is unfortunately all too common for people who have been in any kind of an auto accident to over react, which can lead to all kinds of nasty and potentially dangerous situations. Don't let yourself get into such a situation if you can help it at all. So, if you are involved in an auto accident, here's what to do.
- Create an emergency kit. This emergency kit doesn't need to be one of those full sized deals that can help you handle the end of the world (that can be kept in your trunk). Rather, this particular one should be small enough to fit in your glove box, and designed around an accident. For example, you should have a copy of your insurance card, pen, paper, disposable camera (if you don't have one on your cell phone), medical information card, and emergency contact numbers.
- Don't panic. When, or if, you find yourself in an accident situation the number one thing that you need to remember is to take a hint from Douglas Adams, and "Don't Panic!" Panicking in situations like this can often lead to people doing or saying things that they don't mean, which could then lead to an even worse situation. Do whatever you can to keep your cool, and to help the others involved keep theirs.
- Remember safety first. In all situations, you need to remember safety should always be first. This means that in serious accidents, you don't move anyone that is injured, and that you and your passengers remain in the vehicle as much as is possible. Just remember to turn your hazard lights on. If it is safe to do so, move the vehicles out of the way and set out warning devices to let other drivers know of the situation.
- Trade information. Trade all information, such as insurance numbers, owner of the vehicle, the driver's name, contact information, and license plate number. Be sure that you get the relationship of the driver to the insured person since they may not be the same, and this can avoid potential problems in the future. Another important group of information that you should get is the year, make, model, and color of the vehicle, as well as the exact location (address) of the accident.
- Document everything. If you have a camera on hand (and you should since it was in your emergency kit) photograph the accident. This will help you when you file your claim, and will also help to lower potential problems or questions that may rise up at a later date. Be as truthful and accurate in your pictures, and show as much of the accident as a whole as possible.
- Be familiar with your insurance. It is always a good idea to be as familiar with your insurance as you possibly can. This will allow you to know what is covered, what isn't, and what help your insurance company can give you right away.
- Don't forget to call the police. There are relatively few instances where the police do not need to become involved in an accident. Typically these only occur in minor accidents on private property, and minor accidents in adverse (snowy) weather. At all other times, and in all other circumstances, you should contact the police to file an accident report. At the very least this is something that your insurance company will request, so you may as well have it ready for them.