So you're driving along in your car, minding your own business, listening to some tunes, feeling good, when all of a sudden...BAM! Everything is turned around. You hear the sound of crunching glass and metal, and you feel your whole body jarred. And you think to yourself, what the heck just happened?
You've been in an auto accident, an all-too-common event that still catches most of us completely off-guard.
No matter how carefully you drive, and no matter how sharp your driving skills, chances are excellent that sooner or later you will be involved in an auto accident. Just because you are a good driver doesn't mean the person behind or in front of you is. So when an accident happens, you need to be prepared. What follows are the things you should do immediately following the occurrence of an auto accident.
First things first, before you ever even step foot into your car, make sure your insurance is covered. In most states, it is a law that you must be insured in order to drive. Assuming your insurance needs are accounted for, make sure you have your proof of insurance in your car at all times. It is also an excellent idea to keep a few items for documentation purposes in case of an accident. This would include a pen and pad of some type, a cell phone, and a camera. These days, most cell phones have cameras built in, so you can kill two birds with one stone that way (assuming your phone takes decent pictures).
Now back to the present, as you sit in your newly damaged car. If there are no injuries and the cars are drivable, the vehicles involved be moved to the side of the road. Leaving vehicles in the middle of the road creates a dangerous situation that could cause more accidents. Also turn on your hazard lights.
Now call the police. It is possible that for a minor accident, the police may not respond directly, but you should make the call anyway. If police do come, wait until they leave before you leave the scene of the accident.
The next step is to get out of your car and exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle. The information you need to collect includes the person's name and contact information, insurance provider and policy number, driver's license number and vehicle license plate number. Also jot down some notes about the other vehicle, such as model, make, year and any distinguishing physical characteristics. If you have a camera or cell phone with a camera, take pictures of both your car as well as the other car.
After the accident, you should file a report with your insurance company, even if the accident was minor, not your fault, or if you just choose not to have insurance fix your car. This is a protective measure to prevent you from being directly sued by the other driver involved in the accident. And never admit that an accident is your fault, as that could relieve your insurance company from the duty of paying for damages.
Auto accidents are never fun, but if you follow the above steps you will at least be prepared to deal with the situation in an orderly manner. Just stay calm and everything will be okay.
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