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Car Accidents – What to Do

What to Do After a Car Accident

Everyone tries to avoid them, but odds are you will be in a car accident either as passenger or driver at least once in your lifetime. Hopefully it’s just a minor collision, but it’s still important to know what to do when one happens.  Follow the old adage: prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Drive prepared – Keep an accident kit in your car that includes pen and paper, emergency contact numbers, a first aid kit and list of medications and allergies, a disposable camera if your phone doesn’t have one, insurance card, and vehicle registration.  Always drive with your cell phone charged.

Stay Calm – Accidents are scary, but panicking will get you nowhere.  Take some deep breaths.  Quickly assess the condition of everyone involved.  In the case of a serious injury, call 911.

Get to a Safe Place – If no serious injuries are present and the car is drivable pull out of traffics way, making sure you don’t leave the scene, and turn on your hazard lights.  If you can’t drive put on your hazard lights and remain in the car until you can safely remove yourself from traffics way.

Call the Police – An officer may not need to be present, but call and let the police department be the judge.  When the police arrive, explain what happened but do not admit fault.   If the police do not come, file a state vehicle accident report as soon as possible after you leave the scene of the accident.  You can do this at police stations or online at the Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Exchange Information – From every car involved you’ll want to get each person’s name, address, telephone number, car license plate, car year, make, and model, and the insurance carrier and policy number.  If the other driver’s name differs from the name on the insurance card be sure to get information for both people.  Avoid discussing the accident and do not admit fault.  If the others involved do not cooperate, don’t argue with them.  Wait for the police.  If there were any witnesses get their names, numbers, and addresses.

Take Pictures – Use either your cell phone or disposable camera to take pictures at the scene for documentation.  Include pictures of the entire scene and close ups of the damage on the cars.  This evidence may be helpful to the insurance company.

Call Your Insurance Company – You can do this at the accident scene using the number on your insurance card.  Explain what happened and follow the instructions they give you.  For instance, you may need to take your car to a specific place to be assessed for damage by the insurance company. Although you may settle the accident privately without involving the insurance company, this is very risky.  A person may offer to pay all damages out of pocket but might change his/her tune if the repair cost is higher than anticipated.

Repair the Damage – Once the insurance company gives you the okay, take your car to a reputable mechanic.  Accident damage not properly fixed, or ignored altogether, can seriously affect the life and safety of the car.  Therefore, it is especially important to go to a mechanic you can trust.  Be sure to save all receipts and documentation of work performed, as the insurance company may need them.

Watch Your Condition – You will very likely be sore and bruised for a few days, but keep a watchful eye for more serious injuries, as sometimes they aren’t apparent right away.  Don’t beat yourself up about the accident; what’s done is done.  Always drive alert and defensively, but not anxiously.  Safe and Happy Driving from AutoRepairKey.com!

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