No matter how great your driving skills are, unfortunately accidents happen all the time. A car accident can be a very frustrating situation, especially if you don’t know how to handle it. Even if no one is hurt and the damage to the vehicles are minimal, it is a costly and time consuming process.
Here are a few things you should do when you are involved in a car accident:
In some cases it's clear to all parties involved what happened. They can recall the accident with the same conviction and clarity. In other cases it’s far more complicated. This is why it’s extremely important that you follow specific procedures immediately after an accident.
Stop – Although this may sound like an obvious step to take in the case of an accident, people might not be thinking straight in this kind of emergency situation. Fleeing the scene isn’t always a sign of guilt though. Some people are simply in shock and wrestle with thinking straight. But taking off is the worst possible thing you can do. Even if it’s just a minor case, never drive away from the scene of an accident.
Check to see if everyone is okay and warn the traffic – The damage to your car shouldn’t be your biggest concern. You should firstly check that all parties involved are safe and if there are any injuries. If there are any injuries, immediately call for medical attention.
A lot of the times, injuries caused due to a motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Therefore, even if you experience no pain and notice no injuries, you should seek medical assistance after the event of the accident. A lot of people only report feeling a lot of pain a day or two after the accident. Even in an accident only involving a minor impact, you can suffer a serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord.
Any dazed feeling or losing of consciousness in a short period of time following the accident can mean that you have suffered a concussion or other closed head injury. This can be dangerous and cause behavioural and cognitive changes if not treated.
Turn on your hazards or set up flares and try to move your car out of the way to not block the traffic and to prevent another accident from happening.
Call the police – The police should be involved. When police arrive make sure to tell the investigative officers exactly what had happened to the best of your ability at that time. It is a legal requirement that each driver provides basic details. Tell the officer if there are facts that you are not able to specify. Do not guess, speculate or misstate any facts. Make sure that the statements of the other parties involved are accurate about the facts you can recall as well.
Rather state that you are not sure about your injuries than to just say no. Your pain and injuries may only become apparent hours after the vehicle collision.
Don’t admit that it's your fault. If you caused the accident don’t apologise excessively and don’t take the blame. It’s a matter for the police and your insurance to investigate. If the matter ends up in court, you don’t want your words to harm your case.
If the police do not respond you will have to require some of these details yourself.
Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons involved in the accident, both drivers and passengers alike. If there were any witnesses to the accident, you should get information from them as well.
Contact your insurance and exchange information – You need to contact your insurance and alert them so that you can find out exactly what is needed from you.
Get the other driver’s full name, address, telephone and cell phone numbers as well as the car insurance details. It is important to get the other car’s actual details, such as the license plate number, make and model. It is also important to write down the time, date, and the address where the accident happened.
· Take pictures – If there is any visible damage you should take photos of the vehicles. In the case of any visible injuries, take photos of them as well. Do all of this while not interfering with the ongoing investigation of the police. If you don’t have a camera or for some reason you can’t take photos at the scene of the accident, take photos soon as possible after.
Always follow procedure and try to remain calm when in a car accident, no matter how shaken up and emotional you are. You want to be prepared if there is a legal dispute.