The best any driver could do to avoid accidents is to be careful, but sometimes even that is no guarantee especially out in the open road. As that popular bumper sticker saying goes: “S* Happens.” Over more than an average of 6 million car accidents are reported in the US alone.
Accidents can hardly be prevented, but they can be prepared for and managed without causing more trouble. When one finds him or herself involved in an automobile accident, here are some basic steps to take and some other useful tips on handling the situation:
Make a mental scan to see if there are any injuries anywhere on the body. If the injury is not too serious or fatal, continue on with the next steps.
Do not bother arguing with the other driver, and do not panic too much. Save energy for gathering relevant information such as the names of all involved parties (especially witnesses), other property that was damaged during the accident, and the amount damage on both cars and other property. Also, check if the other drivers and his/her passenger had sustained any serious injuries.
Keep note of the names and addresses of other people who can serve as witnesses in case an argument would occur. Also, take pictures of the accident scene with a cell phone or camera for photographic evidence that can be used for later.
Talk to the other driver and other concerned parties about insurer details. One’s legal responsibilities in a car crash involves giving assistance, and exchanging one’s name and address with the other driver/s and owners of any property damaged in the accident. Under any circumstance, do not admit any liability at the scene of the accident.
Contact the Authorities
Call the local police and an ambulance as soon as possible, especially if there is someone injured, and get a police report for an insurance claim. Get treated with medical care, if need be. Afterwards, contact the insurance agency to report the accident and pass on all necessary information to them. The agency would then begin an investigation to determine who is at fault.
Collecting the Claim
Submit a claim to the insurance agency, and a claims adjuster will determine how much the repairs would cost and send a check. But if the claim is more complicated, the negotiation and investigation processes would take longer. Sometimes legal counselling is a good idea, and having a lawyer can give one an advantage when dealing with the insurer and other party.