What Do I Do After An Accident?

No one likes to think that they’ll be in a car accident, but the fact of the matter is that accidents happen. Whether it’s a major crash or a simple fender bender, being involved in a car accident can be a very frightening and stressful experience, but it’s important to stay as calm as possible. We worked with experts from City Cadillac of Long Island City to establish a list of tips for what to do after an accident occurs. Whether you’re a driver or passenger, remain calm and follow these steps, if possible, to ensure that everyone remains safe, and that legal and monetary effects are minimal.

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Step One: Get to a safe place. IF you’re still able to drive your vehicle, and it seems to be safe to move it, pull over to the side of the road. If you’re not able to move your vehicle out of the road, you should still get yourself and any passengers to a safe place. Put the car in park and put on your flashing hazard lights, then safely move to a place on the side of the road where you’re visible to oncoming drivers. The most important thing after an accident is to ensure that no further damage is done to anyone involved.

Step Two: Check on others. If you’re confident that you yourself are safe and unhurt, the next step is to make sure that your passengers (if you had any) and the occupants of the other vehicles are involved. I anyone appears to be seriously hurt, call 9-1-1 and have an ambulance come to the scene. Otherwise, make sure that everyone else is able to get safely to the side of the road. Now is a good time to introduce yourself to the other driver involved, but take care not to discuss fault at this time. If medical or vehicle expenses are incurred on either or both sides, this can complicate things legally.

Step Three: Call the police. The police should be called in the event of any accident, even a minor one. They will be able to direct traffic around any vehicles are stuck in the road, advise you on whether or not it’s safe to drive your vehicle to a garage or if you should be towed, and assess the situation for their report. If insurance proceedings are necessary after an accident, a police report is your best bet for a clear and unbiased view of the crash.

Step Four: Exchange information. While you’re waiting for the police to come, it’s a good idea to collect some basic information about the accident. Write down information like the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved, as well as the makes and models; the location of the accident; the names of everyone involved and their insurance information. When the police do arrive, be sure to get the name of the responding officer, so you can reference it if you need to contact the department and access the report.

Step Five: Take pictures. If you have a smartphone or a phone with a camera, take some pictures of the scene. Photos of the accident, your vehicle, and the other vehicle can be useful when filing or disputing insurance claims.

Step Six: Seek medical assistance. After an accident, it’s always a good idea to seek non-emergent medical attention, even if you think you feel fine. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician, or head to a clinic, just to be safe. Better to go in just in case than to ignore a headache, bruise, or stiff neck that ultimately could end up being something worse.

Obviously, the best-case scenario is to not be in an accident. By practicing safe driving habits, you can do a lot to ensure the safety of yourself and your fellow drivers, but sometimes crashes and fender benders are unavoidable. If you end up in an accident, take a deep breath and stay calm, then follow these steps to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

Written by

Eric J. Leech is a born and bred auto enthusiast who has been a gear-head ever since he crawled out of his crib and got his Kool-aide stained mitts on a 67 Camaro SS (red, black bucket seats, no air-conditioning). He's since become an automotive journalist for a variety of sources, including DUB Magazine, American Auto Press, Import Tuner, Turbo & High Performance, and has also worked as a content provider for the Discovery Channel's, Mean Green Machines. Follow Eric J. Leech at Google+

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