No one wants to think about getting into a car accident, but they happen every single day. Rather than hide our heads in the sand, we’re better off being proactive. Knowing these five steps can prepare you to deal with an accident and protect yourself from harm that can come long after the vehicles are off the road.
Check for Injury
This is always the number one priority. As soon as you can safely leave the vehicle, you want to see if anyone is hurt. That includes yourself. If there is any sign of injury, call 911 and get medical help. Everything else is secondary. If and when everyone is out of danger, you can move on to the next step.
Involve the Police
Whether or not there is injury, the police need to be involved. The official police report is the ultimate record of what happened. It determines who is at fault and who may owe damages to anyone else. Without a police report, you might as well assume that any damages or expenses won’t be covered by insurance. This isn’t always true, but it’s a good way to convince yourself to call the police.
This is a weird thing to consider. No one wants to put on a smile after a car crash, but it can make a huge difference. Striving to remain positive will help you remain calm and proactive. This can be an amazing benefit to anyone who is hurt, and it makes anyone else involved less likely to flee the scene or be nasty towards you in general.
Most importantly, losing your temper after a crash is pretty much always a mistake. It undermines your credibility and can make it much harder to deal with the aftermath of the accident.
On top of that, focusing on a positive attitude will help you avoid two crucial mistakes. As a rule, you don’t want to admit fault or discuss the accident with anyone other than the police and your insurance agent. As the old saying goes, anything you say can and will be used against you. When you focus on remaining positive, you’re less likely to want to talk about what went wrong.
Call Your Insurance Agent
Some experts would suggest doing this as step five. There’s an argument for that, but there’s a good reason to call your insurance company as soon as you reasonably can. Once everyone is out of danger and the police are on their way, it’s a good time to talk to your agent. They’ll help you remain calm and walk through the checklist of things you need to do. Some of that checklist is in the next step, but having your agent on the phone will help you hit everything that matters.
Most importantly, tell your agent immediately if anyone appears to be injured. They need to get the ball rolling on that as soon as possible.
Use the Rest of Your Phone
At this point, you’ve made some important phone calls, but your smartphone can do a lot more for you. For starters, you can exchange contact information with anyone else involved. You can also take a picture of their driver’s license and insurance information. Then, you can take a bunch of photos of the scene of the accident.
If possible, you want some pictures before the vehicles are moved. You also want a photo of any visible damage to either vehicle. Lastly, you can use your phone to take notes. If you think it’s important, write it down. It’s better to have too many notes than too few.
When you follow these steps, you’ll be in good shape, considering. From there, your insurance company can help you find the best mechanic or auto body repair shop to take care of the vehicle.