7 Steps to Take After Getting into a Car Accident

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(Newswire.net — March 3, 2020) — Car accidents are scary, there’s no way around it. One moment, you’re driving along just fine and the next, your life flashes before your eyes as you see the headlights coming straight for your side panel at full speed.

Even in minor wrecks—ones in which nobody gets hurt and damage is minimal—drivers are nonetheless filled with heart pumping adrenaline, caught off guard and theorizing all the ways it could have been so much worse.

In the swirling chaos and confusion that comes immediately after an accident, it’s entirely normal to feel a bit shell shocked and disoriented, uncertain about which steps to take next. The key to keeping calm is to prepare yourself on what to do should you ever get into a wreck on the road. Hopefully, it never happens to you and your loved ones—but even the most careful drivers can find themselves hit by someone more reckless. Read these tips on how to proceed from a car accident and stay in control of your surroundings when you’re met with the unexpected.

  • Step #1: Stop the Car

Always, always, always pull over immediately after collision with another vehicle or piece of property—whether or not you believe the crash was your fault. A hit and run is a felony offense, so even if you’re afraid of the consequences, leaving the scene will result in far worse punishment. Do your best to pull over to wherever it’s safe to stop to avoid further damage from oncoming traffic.

  • Step #2: Check for Injury

Hopefully you make it through the accident unscathed, but make sure you check for injury before making any sudden movements. Sometimes, wrecks can be so stressful that victims in shock don’t even notice or perceive the pain of an open gash or broken bone. Scan yourself, then your passengers, and dial 911 if anyone is hurt. If the injury is serious, stay still as best you can and call a bystander for assistance. Then, get to safety as quickly as possible.

  • Step #3: Call 911

Not everyone calls the police after a car accident, but it’s usually a good idea to do so, and some states even require it by law. Responding officers will document the scene and file a police report, which your insurance agency might request to facilitate the claims process. If an officer can’t make it out onto the scene, go to your nearest police station to file a report.

  • Step #4: Wait for Help

While you wait for someone to respond to the scene, make sure the car engine is shut off to minimize the risk of fire due to a broken gas line. Turn on the hazard lights and if you have a car emergency kit, light the flares so oncoming traffic will be able to see you.

  • Step #5: Exchange Insurance Information

Now is a good time to exchange car insurance information with the other driver involved in the accident, if there was one. Note: If you collide with an object, you may be able to skip calling the police and call a tow truck directly (if necessary). However, keep in mind that your insurance company may request a police report, and if you cause damage then leave the scene without taking accountability, you may be charged with a hit and run crime.

  • Step #6: Document the Accident

Take note of all critical details to expedite the claims process. Record their insurance information, take photos of all the damage, gather witness statements, and write down the names and contact info of all people involved.

  • Step #7: Notify Your Insurance

Finally, let your insurance company know about the incident. It’s best to call while you’re still at the scene so they can tell you exactly what you need to file a claim in case you overlooked a certain detail. They’ll walk you through the next steps and what to expect during the process. Most likely, you’ll be sent to a mechanic with body shop estimating software that can quickly estimate accurate vehicle repair estimates.

Car accidents can frazzle anyone, but with these steps in mind, you’ll be able to stay cool and collected among the chaos.