If you’re involved in a car accident, you’re going to be understandably upset, shaken, and stressed. It’s a very nerve-wracking situation. It can be hard to know exactly what to do if you get into a car accident, so we’ve got some tips to help you navigate the situation.
What to do if you’re in a car accident
1. Pull over.
First of all, stop the car. You need to try to move the car to a safe spot (if you can) and then stop. Don’t flee the scene – this is not a good idea and can get you in serious trouble.
Also, avoid admitting fault for the accident when you interact with the other driver.
2. Call the police.
You need to get the authorities involved, so call the police and answer the questions the dispatcher asks. Be sure to tell them if there appear to be any injuries at the scene. Try to give them a detailed description of where you are.
3. Take photos of the vehicles and the scene.
If you can, take photos of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicles. This can help you when you have to file your insurance claim. It’s important to document everything, so put your smartphone’s camera to use and take pictures.
4. Exchange contact information with the other driver.
You also need to exchange information with the other driver. It might be a little awkward, but there are a few things that you need to ask the other driver (or drivers.) Try to collect the following:
- The driver’s name
- Their address
- Their phone number
- Their license plate number
- The Vehicle Identification Number
- Their insurance company
Also, jot down a description of the vehicles so you can keep the details straight in your head.
5. Give the police as much information as you can.
Tell the police what happened. Simply stick to the facts. (Of course, you have to cooperate with the police.)
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6. Ask the officer how you can get a copy of the police report.
Be sure to ask the officer who comes to the scene how you can get a copy of the police report. The reason that you might need this is your insurance claim – you may have to submit the report when you file your car insurance claim. (Your collision coverage can help you take care of damage to your car resulting from an accident.)
7. Write down your account of what happened.
As soon as you can, write down your account of what happened. Unfortunately, our memories aren’t perfect. The events of the accident could get hazier as time goes by and you might not be able to remember the details of what happened. Time plays tricks on us. If you’re able to write a time-stamped account of what happened, you’ll be better equipped when you handle the claim and the aftermath of the accident.
8. Keep records.
It’s also essential that you become a pro note-taker when you’re handling your insurance claim. Every time you talk to your insurance company, note the date of the call/email. Write down the name and title of the person you spoke with, and take some notes about what you talked about or discussed. Keep all of these notes in a safe place, and keep them all together so that you can stay organized.
9. Don’t discuss the accident.
Only talk about the accident with the police, your insurance company (NOT the other driver’s insurance company), and your lawyer (if you need one.) It’s best not to discuss what happened with anyone other than these people – it could be used against you later.
10. Keep records of expenses that come up because of the accident.
It’s also important to keep track of any expenses that you incur because of your accident. Your insurance might cover some of these expenses, so you may be able to get reimbursed. As you’re handling the claim, it can only help you to have a neat, organized record of the expenses that came to be because of your accident.
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Whether it’s a fender-bender or a more serious accident, it can be extremely stressful to handle a car accident and the insurance claim that follows. Do your best to document everything (taking pictures, taking notes of conversations with the car insurance company, and so on.) Don’t forget to write down your account of the accident as soon as you can. And of course, take care of yourself.
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