We’ve all been there. You’re driving to work or school, wondering if you should stop for coffee before you reach the parking lot, and in a flash, everything changes. You see odd movement out of the corner of your eye or in your rearview mirror, or hear screeching tires, and then you’re stuck, waiting for the police. That’s if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, you are waiting for the ambulance. It pays to be prepared. If you are in an accident, here are some pointers on what to do – and what not to do.
The only official record of your accident will be through the police. This is the only way to officially document the time, place, and participants in the accident. Even if you have had a relatively minor accident, you need for the police or highway patrol to record those items of information, along with weather conditions and other potential contributions to the accident.
Most people, these days, have a phone on their cell phones. Take pictures of the accident. You not only need shots of your vehicle, but of the other one as well. Also get shots of the scene, including the spot where the collision happened and where the cars finally stopped. Also, take pictures of the people involved, if possible.
You need to give your insurance information to the other driver, but be sure to get his or her insurance information, too. The police will take it, but you need that information too.
Serious injuries do not always show up right away. If you do not get checked out by the doctor, you may suffer from complications. It is also really hard to get an insurance company to believe you if you claim injury days or weeks after an accident.
Be the first one to call your insurance company. Your rates will not go up if you just let them know you have been in a wreck, and it will not count against you if you were not issued a ticket. Even more importantly, you may lose some of your legal rights if the insurance company is blindsided.
Many times, people will strike an agreement with the other party of a wreck in order to keep it unofficial. This will only help one person in the accident, and it probably won’t be you. If the other party is insistent on not calling the authorities, get back into your car – if you can – and call the police. The person avoiding the police may not even have a license or insurance, which would leave you in a bind. You also will not have any proof that the accident happened the way you said, and crucial details will go unrecorded if you do not call the police.
Your own set of pictures will be crucial. Do not assume that the other party’s pictures will be made available to your insurance company, or that the police will take enough. You need to have your own proof of setting and damage.
Be sure that you get the other driver’s insurance. Check the date of expiration on it, and if the other driver says his new card is at home, chances are, he or she is not insured. You will not get another chance. People can easily leave the state, leaving you holding the bag for all of your own repairs and medical bills.
People who do not go to the doctor promptly can actually face life-threatening conditions. For example, if you have been thrown into your shoulder harness, you may not think there is any damage except for a bruise. However, first responders will tell you that your carotid artery may have been nicked or bruised, forming a small leak. 24 hours later, most people die with this injury. It is always best to get checked, just in case.
If – or when – you are in a car accident, look out for number one. Make sure you have official documentation of the accident and location, have all of the communication and insurance information of the other party, and get medical clearance on your injuries. Let your insurance company know so they won’t be blind-sided the way you were.
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