With all the cars on the roads these days, the occasional minor car accident almost seems like an inevitability. Little fender benders are all too common, all over the country. While huge and/or catastrophic accidents are less common, dozens of them still happen ever day in the United States. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to drive defensively and safely. However, you cannot control what other drivers do. This means you cannot eliminate the risk of a car accident entirely.
If you are in a car accident and are not injured (or not seriously), here are the five steps you should take immediately afterward to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
1. Take Pictures of the Accident Scene
You will probably have your phone with you in your car, and that phone probably has a camera on it. Once you are sure you are okay, as well as anyone who is in your car with you, get out and take pictures of the accident scene. Make sure you are safe while doing this by staying out of the way of traffic and away from cars that are on fire, smoking, have their wheels still turning, or otherwise look dangerous.
Having these pictures from immediately after the accident will make sorting everything out much easier for the police. They will also help your insurance company determine who is at fault, how much damage was done, and how much compensation they should pay you or an involved party if any.
2. Ensure the Safety of the Surrounding Area
To the best of your ability, move any debris out of the immediate area so people do not injure themselves on it. Check on everyone involved in the accident who you can safely approach and ask how they are doing and if they need anything. If you have road flares or magnetic LED hazard lights in your car, set them up around the accident scene to alert oncoming cars that they should stay as far away from the area as possible.
These things will keep you and everyone involved in the accident as safe as possible while waiting for first responders to arrive. It will also keep the first responders safe when they get there.
3. Call First Responders
Call 9-1-1 to let first responders know there has been an accident. Even if there are no injuries, police will still need to come to the scene to do a report, get statements, and issue any necessary citations. In most states, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without calling first responders.
4. Exchange Insurance Information
Exchange insurance information with anyone else involved in the accident who is able to do so. For most minor fender benders, the other party will be able to do this with you. It allows you to both make a claim with the other’s insurance, if necessary.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company needs to know about the accident, too. They will probably need to pay out something, either to you or the other party, such as money for medical bills, car repairs, or a trip to an auto body shop or glass repair place. The information you give them lets them know what kind of claim to file for you.
When you do these things immediately after a car accident, you are keeping everyone involved as safe as possible. You are also providing valuable information to first responders and giving your insurance company the information it needs to assist you. Keep these things in mind, and you will make the most of a bad situation for everyone present.