The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that, in any part of the world, there is a motor vehicle accident every 60 seconds. Which pretty much means there are nearly five and a quarter million vehicle accidents each year. When you go by these statistics, it is highly likely that there will be a time when you are involved in an accident. When it is your first auto accident, you may be unsure of just exactly what it is you are supposed to do.
The weeks, and sometimes months, following an auto accident may be very stressful. The following advice will hopefully ease some of the pressure.
The first thing you need to try and do is remain calm. It is easier said than done but take a deep breath or two then proceed with the steps below.
Move to a Safe Area, If You Can
If neither you nor your passengers are seriously injured, and you are able to do so, you should move your vehicle out of the middle of the road. Try to move as far to the side of the road as you possibly can. If you are unable to move your vehicle make sure your hazard lights are on so that other motorists will know that your vehicle will not be moving. Remember, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident, so don’t leave.
Shut Off Your Vehicle and Get Out
Put your vehicle in park and shut it off. Glance at your surroundings and make sure that it is safe to get out of your vehicle. If the road is clear, get out of the vehicle. Set out flares or safety cones if you have them.
Check Everyone Involved for Injuries
If anyone involved in the accident appears to be injured call 911 right away. Often, pain and injuries do not become evident to a person involved in an accident for hours or even days after an accident once the adrenaline has worn off. So, even mild injuries and symptoms should be looked over by a healthcare professional.
Ask for Police to Come to the Accident Scene
Even in a minor accident, it is a good idea to have a police report for your records. These reports are helpful when dealing with insurance companies and other motorists. Fully cooperate with the officers but watch your language around them and avoid taking blame or blaming others. If they ask you if you are injured say that you are “not sure” rather than no. Let the officers determine the events of the crash objectively based on the evidence in front of them.
Gather Information for Your Records
After an accident, you will want to have as much information as you can. You will want to collect the following information:
• Insurance information of all drivers involved in the accident
• Name, address and phone numbers of every person involved in the accident
• Make, model, and year of all vehicles involved in the accident
• License plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the accident
• Contact information and names of any eyewitnesses
• Location of the accident
• The name and badge number of the responding police officers
• Police report number and a copy of the report
Take Photos at the Scene
Photos are very useful in the insurance claim process. If you have a camera or phone with picture taking abilities don’t hesitate to take photos at the scene. Take pictures of any visible injuries to yourself and/or your passengers, the damage to your vehicle, the accident location, and other people involved in the accident. Be sure to stay out of the way of any police investigation while you take your photographs.
Get Medical Attention
Often, injuries from an accident are not immediately evident. Many people won’t notice pain for a few days. Unless you are 100 percent positive you weren’t injured you should get medical attention either by your family doctor or at an urgent care.
File an Insurance Claim
Call your insurance company and start the claims process. Make sure you have all the information you gathered on hand.
Hold on to All of Your Records
You should hold onto all the following information in a file for your records. The information could come in handy when dealing with insurance companies, and if lawyers become involved. You should keep all the following information:
• All the above information that you gathered at the scene
• All medical reports
• Your claim number
• The name of the person handling your claim
• Any rental car receipts
• Any receipts or records of expenses that you incurred because of the accident
Contact a Lawyer (Optional)
Sometimes dealing with the process of an accident on your own isn’t so bad, others you may want to get help from a lawyer who specializes in this sort of thing. An attorney can protect your rights throughout the process and can help guarantee that no evidence with any value is destroyed. Insurance companies will often want to take a statement immediately after an accident, however, an attorney would advise you to wait until you have received legal advice. Having an attorney help you through the accident aftermath will help to make sure you are paid in full for any damages or injuries you sustained.
We hope you find the above advice helpful should you find yourself needing it. However, we hope even more, that you never do! You can’t control everything that happens on the road around you, but there is one thing that you can control to help keep you and other motorists safe on the road and that is performing regular auto maintenance. Having regular maintenance performed on your vehicle prevents drivability issues, reducing the chances of an accident related to a vehicle malfunction. To keep your vehicle running optimally, bring your vehicle into the experts at Virginia Auto Service. Call us at 602-266-0200 or schedule your next appointment online.