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What Should You Do After A Car Accident?

by Louise W. Rice
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People tend to think that bad things won’t happen to them. Many believe that thinking about the bad things can only bring misfortune. However, if you are a driver, you have to be aware that car accidents can happen to anyone. Every day, approximately 3,700 people lose their lives in road crashes. The number of people who get injured or even disabled as a result of a car accident annually ranges between 20 and 50 million. Add to that the number of crashes where there are no physical injuries but there is property damage, and it’s clear why we need to acknowledge the possibility of an accident happening to any one of us.

This article is not meant to scare you, but rather to instill in you the belief that you need to hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. Here’s how to know what to do after a car crash.

Stay Calm

This is probably the most difficult thing to do after an accident, regardless of its severity. But it’s a crucial factor that will help you go through with the rest of the ordeal. Take a deep breath and try to keep your head cool. Doing a deep breathing exercise would also be helpful, as it will get the oxygen flowing through your body and ground your thoughts. Here’s a technique that can help:

  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe in through the nose. Count to five.
  • Breathe out, counting to five as you do it.
  • Repeat a couple of times.

Check for Injuries

If anyone else was in the car with you, ask how they’re feeling. Check for bleeding or broken bones in all the passengers, including yourself. Even if everything seems to be okay, call 911. There could be some internal injuries you are not able to perceive. If there was another vehicle involved, see if you need to help those passengers, but only once you’re sure you are well. Don’t avoid calling the police if the incident was minor. The police report is required for the insurance company.

Get off the road

If it’s still possible to start your car, move it off the road so that it’s not in the way of approaching vehicles. If the accident happens during the night and you are not able to move your car, turn on the hazard lights so other drivers can spot you. Move yourself and other passengers off the road – there’s no need for you to sit in your car if you are able to get out.

Check for Vehicle Damage

When you are sure that there are no severe injuries and when the vehicles involved are out of the way, check for car damage. If you can, take pictures of both vehicles to assess the damage. Also, it helps to write down how the accident happened, while your memory is still fresh. Every detail is important.

Exchange Information and Documents

It’s important not to admit guilt or blame the other driver before you have all the details, including the police report. Instead, you should channel your energies toward exchanging the necessary information and documents with the involved party. Here is a list of the things you need to know on the scene:

  • Name and insurance information
  • Contact information
  • Photos of the other car’s damage
  • The number of the police report
  • Name and contact information of the police officer
  • Personal notes that the other driver involved in the accident has taken

A free app called WreckCheck by The National Association of Insurance Commissioners can be useful for recording the necessary information regarding a car accident, such as when it happened and what the results were. It even allows you to record an audio statement and sends it to your insurance agent.

See if You Have Basis for Insurance Coverage

Many factors will determine what will happen with your insurance claim. The first one is who the main culprit for the crash is. The second one has to be the type of insurance coverage you and the other driver have. Here’s how the coverage would work if the accident is the other driver’s fault:

  • The other driver’s property damage liability coverage should cover the repairs of your vehicle up to the policy’s limit.
  • Your medical expenses can be covered up to the limits of the other participant’s injury liability coverage, which is a requirement in most states.
  • In case the other driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage for your bills, uninsured motorist coverage (which is required in 21 states and the District of Columbia) can be the solution for
  • As for the other driver’s expenses, collision coverage should pay for repairs, and their health insurance should cover medical bills.

Decide Whether You Want to File a Claim

It doesn’t make sense to file an insurance claim if you are to blame for the crash. This decision should also depend on the extent of the damage to both vehicles, the existence of injuries, and the type of insurance coverage both drivers have. If you decide on filing the claim, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.

Consult an Expert

If you believe you might be entitled to compensation, you should file a lawsuit. Do keep in mind, however, that this process can be lengthy and costly. Because it’s additionally stressful to deal with after going through an accident, you’ll want to look for a reputable law firm dealing with car accidents in your area. An experienced car accident lawyer will guide you through the whole process and provide useful advice, regardless of whether you decide on litigation or not. Your lawyer can help you determine your chances of winning the case.

In Closing

Once the post-accident process is over, it’s good to be grateful and enjoy a sense of relief, but you’ll still need to monitor your health. We all handle accidents differently, and it can be difficult to determine right away how the collision impacted our mental and physical health.

Even if you don’t feel any symptoms after the crash, they may occur later. So, keep an eye on back and neck pain, headaches, and feelings of numbness. Also, stressful situations may affect your mental wellbeing. If you feel like your anxiety levels are up or like you can’t cope with everyday chores, be sure to consult a trauma counselor.

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