Accidents are just that – mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t disrupt your life for a little while. Unfortunately most of us will get in at least one car accident in our lives, whether it’s a small fender bender, or a huge collision. Car accidents are horrible for everyone involved. Even fender benders can be very costly and disruptive.
In 2009, I was turning right onto a main road from my condo on the way to the grocery store. It was February, so there was water and ice on the road, and the glare from the sun was reflecting off of it. It was difficult to see, but I shoulder checked and misjudged the distance between me and an approaching car, thereby cutting the car off. They slammed into me, causing me to veer into a ditch.
For this, I was found at fault, and rightly so. It was a split second mistake that caused my insurance premiums to skyrocket. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but both myself and the other driver were both very shaken up. The damage cost the insurance company $7,000 as the other vehicle had a caved in wheel well, and I ended up paying a premium on my insurance for years.
A couple of years later, a friend was in an accident through no fault of his own. The other driver turned left into his lane, not checking to see who was beside him. He ended up causing a lot of damage to my friend’s newer car, but, once again, nobody was hurt.
I remember during my accident, I was at a complete loss as to what to do. I got out of my car shakily, and went on autopilot, letting the other driver lead the process. My friend had been in a few accidents, so knew the protocol. Hindsight is 20/20, and during my research I learned just what I should have done during my accident.
Remain Calm and Phone the Police
It’s easy to be angry at the other driver if they caused the accident, or frustrating with yourself if you were at fault. It’s also natural to want to lash out at the other driver, but that’s not going to help the situation.
It’s important that you remain calm so that you can have a level head when you assess your situation.
If you have a cell phone with you, phone the police to do a report. If not, find somebody that does.
Assess Whether You’ve Been Injured
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, the parties forget to stop and listen to their bodies to see if they are feeling any soreness or stiffness after the accident. You may not feel it for a couple of days, but even minor collisions come with a high impact, which can cause whiplash back problems, broken bones, and even concussion.
Be sure to listen to your body and take a moment to assess whether you’re feeling any pain at the scene.
Establish Fault & Gather Witnesses
If you are at fault in the accident, the other party should try to find a witness to relay what happened. If the other driver is at fault, you should try to find a witness as well.
Frequently, the driver at fault will own up to their mistake and take the onus of the accident, however, there are many people out there that may try to fight it. It’s your word against theirs when it comes to what happened when you are relaying the story to the insurance company, and witnesses are very helpful.
Don’t play the blame game with the other party. They may feel you were at fault, and you may feel that they were, but getting into an argument is not likely to change anybody’s mind. Remain calm.
Report the Accident To Your Insurance Company
Typically both parties have to report the accident to the insurance company in order to establish fault with the company and have the damages paid for.
There is usually a time limit to phone and report the accident, so be sure to check what that is in your jurisdiction. The police may provide it to you at the scene of the accident.
Minor accidents happen, and knowing what to do after being in one will help you through a trying situation.
Have you been in an accident? Did you know what to do afterward?