You get to enjoy many firsts in life, but the one first you never want to have is a first collision. It can be a scary moment since you won't know what to expect. If you keep calm and follow what you learn in this article, you'll be fine if you ever get into a car accident.
5 Steps to Take After a Collision
1. Make Sure Everyone Is Fine
The number one most important thing to do after a collision is to check on the health and safety of you and your passengers. If anyone needs emergency medical attention, call an ambulance immediately. If one of your passengers is unable to exit the car due to an injury, have them stay put. If they ended up with a spinal injury, it could do more damage if they try and move.
2. Stay Calm and Move Out of the Way
A collision usually happens without any warning. You'll likely start to panic due to a rush of adrenaline. Keep your cool so you can quickly assess the situation and move your vehicle (assuming it's not totaled) to a safe place on the side of the road. Set the parking brake, turn off the engine, and put on your hazard lights. If you can, set up your emergency cones or flares to alert other drivers of what's ahead.
3. Call the Police
Just about every state requires you to call the police after an accident, especially if there is major damage. This is especially important if there's debris from the crash on the road that could endanger other drivers. The officers can also file a police report right away, so it's one less thing you have to worry about doing after the fact. Note the names and badge numbers of the officers that arrived on the scene if the insurance company needs to contact them.
4. Collect Every Piece of Information
One of the most important things you need to do after any accident is to get all of the information you can. Not only will it make filling your insurance claim much easier, but it'll allow you to fully document everything that happened. Get the following information from the other drivers:
Driver's license and license plate number
The color, make, model, and year of their vehicle and where the damage occurred.
Don't be afraid to take pictures of all of their documents as well with your cell phone. This helps if you accidentally write down a wrong number from being shaky after the accident. Take pictures of every angle of every car involved, any property damage, any injuries anyone sustained, and any skid marks or road debris. Keep a crash report in your glove box so you don't forget to write down a thing.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company
Once you get the go-ahead that you can leave the scene of the accident, contact your insurance company. It's very important that you do this right away while all of the details are still fresh in your mind. You can either call your agent or use their app if they have one. These apps allow you to upload every requested document and picture, making sure you don't miss a thing.
Once you've filed a claim, you have to wait for your insurance company to review every detail and document. They'll also reach out to all parties involved.
Additional Tips for Handling a Collision
Always Be Prepared
Your driver's license, car registration, and insurance information.
A roadside safety kit that has either cones, flares, or triangles to alert other drivers.
A first aid kit.
Your charged cell phone.
Nowadays, your cell phone takes the place of a flashlight, camera, pen and paper, and a way to look up emergency contact numbers. It doesn't hurt to keep backups of these in your car just in case your phone breaks in the collision.
Watch Your Language
It's hard not to immediately yell at the other driver if they did something stupid or apologize if the accident was your fault. In either situation, it's best to just stay calm and hold your tongue. You don't want any mistaken words used against you if the whole situation winds up in court. Stick to the facts of what happened, and if the other driver tries to start arguing, just walk away until the police arrive.
Drive Defensively to Help Avoid Accidents
Now that you know what to do if you ever end up in an automobile accident, learn how you can prevent yourself from getting into one in the first place. One way to do this is by taking a driver's education course at DriversEd.com. Our courses will teach you defensive driving techniques through entertaining lessons, which you can take entirely online.