Unfortunately, some car accidents occur because of outside forces or drivers being careless. You can prevent others by practicing defensive driving and paying extra attention to your surroundings. Regardless of who’s at fault, your adrenaline is pumping after an accident, and the world around you can seem so hectic that you may struggle to make the best choices. But it’s important to remember what to do in a car accident.
In such a chaotic situation, millions of thoughts may race through your mind, and you may forget to collect someone’s information or contact the police. With so many accidents happening each year in the United States, it’s always best practice to prepare for these difficult situations. Keep reading to discover some of the most important things to remember if you’re in a car accident.
First and Foremost: Stay Calm
When you get into an accident, the best thing you can do is to stay calm. Your attitude will help you think rationally throughout the next steps of the process. By staying level-headed, you will be able to remember the responsibilities you have after the accident, such as collecting information from all parties involved. Staying calm will also prevent bigger issues and arguments from arising.
Get Yourself and Your Vehicle to a Safe Area
What should you do in a minor car accident? The biggest priority you should have when operating a vehicle is your and your passenger’s safety. If possible, move your car to a nearby parking lot or shoulder—all while signaling the other vehicle to follow. Moving to a safer area outside of traffic will help deter any other potential accidents and injuries from oncoming cars. Turn on your hazard blinkers and any other indicators to signal your intentions to nearby traffic.
Call a Tow Truck if Needed
If you cannot move your car to a safer location, you would need to tow it to a local tow truck company. For those who have roadside assistance, this is the best time to utilize your membership and get your vehicle moved for a lower price. However, finding a towing company with the best reviews and credentials is always beneficial.
Contact the Police Immediately
One of the most important things to do after getting in a car accident is to contact the police. Filing an accident report will help keep the facts straight and make it easier for both parties to contact their insurance companies. Some police may not respond to a minor accident, especially if you live in a highly populated area. So, check with your local police department to see how you can go forward with reporting a minor or major accident.
However, when the police arrive on the scene, take note of each officer’s name, badge number, and the best way to contact them. You must receive a report copy from the police department for insurance purposes. If the police don’t show up at the scene, request a copy from your local law enforcement department, or ask for the report from your insurance company.
Get Medical Attention if Needed
Don’t underestimate your sore arm or minor headache after your accident—seek medical attention. Our bodies sometimes mask the symptoms of injuries due to adrenaline. As soon as you experience pain, soreness, or stiffness, you should see a doctor as quickly as possible. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. You’ll be surprised how many spine or neck injuries can fly under the radar and leave you in pain later.
Don’t Forget To Collect Important Information
Write down insurance information, license plate numbers, driver and passenger names, and the make and model of all cars involved. Describe the environment around you—the weather, traffic level, and time of day. This information will help when building the case against who’s at fault. If there’s an eyewitness, try to get information from them as well.
Document the Scene of the Accident
If you can, take pictures and videos as soon as possible. Unless the other vehicle involved is legally required to, they don’t have to stick around. Thus, getting footage of the damage and their license plate number is crucial to help prove your case. If the other party decides to stick around, you still need evidence to make it more difficult for them to claim that they weren’t involved in the accident. With permission, you should also ask the other driver if you could also document their insurance information.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Failing to notify your insurance company of an accident can get you in trouble and leave you liable for all damages. Even if you’re not at fault, contact your insurance company so that they can help you file any claims. If the other party denies responsibility, you must report this to your insurance company. Don’t assume that your premium will skyrocket if you file a claim. They may forgive the incident if you have a solid driving record.
What Not To Do if You’re in a Car Accident
While knowing what to do after an accident is important, you should also know what not to do. Read on to explore the top three things you shouldn’t do if you want to avoid expensive and serious consequences.
Fleeing the scene of an accident after getting into a car crash could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. In most states, the law requires that you remain on the scene until all parties have fulfilled all legal requirements and guidelines. Failing to check on the other party involved and assess the situation is the worst thing you could do. Stop and document the scene, call the police, and file a report. Once everyone is safe and ready, you can leave.
Admitting to Fault Without Knowing Everything
Many people who get into an accident may feel as if it’s their fault or feel the need to apologize. However, this is a mistake! Determining who is at fault in an accident is up to your car insurance company and the police. What you may think is common courtesy could affect your ability to receive compensation from your insurance and affect the cost of your car insurance. Ensure that you have all the facts before you say anything.
Leaving the Scene With No Documentation
Knowing what not to do in a car accident is also beneficial. Leaving the scene without taking pictures or videos is a big mistake. These cases are often their words and documentation against yours, so it’s crucial to gather as much documentation as possible. Your pictures and videos could help the insurance companies and police file their reports as well.
Saferoad Insurance Service’s number one priority is ensuring that our customers are safe and financially protected. We hope our reminders will help you stay prepared while driving. Every time you hit the road, you face the risk of getting into an accident, which is why we offer comprehensive auto insurance in CA. We serve Long Beach, Los Angeles, and other surrounding areas. You can also explore our blogs to learn more about what to do in a car accident and how to remove points from your license. Be sure to contact us for any additional information or questions—we’re always ready to help.