You may recall from my Why Traffic Accidents Happen article that more than 6 million road accidents happen in the United States every year. The vast majority of us will be an a traffic accident at some point in our lives. Therefore, it is important to know how to handle a car accident.
How to Handle a Car Accident
I've been in a car wreck. I know that when a traffic accident happens, your heart starts racing and your senses go into the fight-flight-freeze response. This can make it difficult to deal with the situation at hand. If you find yourself in this scenario and are not prepared for it, it's easy to forget how to mitigate the effects of the accident. Keep reading for some tips on what to do if you're in a traffic accident. After all, forewarned is forearmed, right?
Take a Deep Breath
I know, it seems silly to have “take a deep breath” listed as a tip for how to handle a traffic accident. The truth is, though, that in is easy to panic, and hyperventilate, in an accident scenario. Taking the time to intentionally take deep breaths, and purposely breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, will help to calm your nerves. As someone who has a history of panic disorder, I also highly recommend the 5-4-3-2-1 method.
Call an Ambulance to Deal with Serious Injuries
Once you've established calm, determine whether or not anyone has been injured in the car crash. If you, or someone around, you has suffered any injuries, you should call an ambulance right away. It is tempting to brush off any medical care for minor injuries, but it is always better to be checked out than to let an injury go unchecked. If you don't have a cell phone handy, try to flag down a passerby to phone for help.
After ensuring that any injuries are addressed, be sure to photograph the scene of the accident. Also, if possible, immediately jot down anything you remember from the moments that led up to the accident. If the other motorist was driving rashly and was at fault, then you will need proof of their negligence. Photographs, and your notes, can be a great help. Remember, you may have to spend a significant amount of money on car repairs and medical bills, and if you were not at fault, you could get compensation by filing a personal injury claim. Be sure to obtain legal representation for a personal injury lawsuit if you do need to go that route. Find help at bbjlawyers.com. I can tell you, from personal experience, you do not want to go against an insurance company for compensation on your own.
If you have a dash cam, footage from that is also helpful.
Report the Accident
Once you have settled down and have received medical attention at the crash site, you should call the authorities immediately. Often times, law enforcement officers will respond to your 9-1-1 call, but if not, call them. Never leave the scene of an accident without at least speaking with law enforcement by phone. Leaving the scene of an accident without speaking to law enforcement casts doubt on your retelling of the event, and may even be illegal. In some cases, where no injuries are present, they will simply give you a case number that you can reference when calling your insurance company. If you are injured, and need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, this report number is critical.
Exchange contact and insurance information with all parties involved in the vehicular accident. You should always keep a document with your insurance information in your vehicle (the glove compartment is a great place) for emergency cases like this. You should also get the contact details of eyewitnesses. If anyone refuses to exchange their contact and/or insurance information, be sure to write down the make and model of their vehicle, as well as the license plate number.
Check out my post on why SAHMs need life insurance, too, before you leave.