Steps to Take After an Auto Accident

Automobile accidents are a common occurrence every day on busy roads and highways throughout the country. There are several factors that can result in a minor fender bender or a serious and life threatening collision. Driver error accounts for a majority of these motor vehicle accidents. Just glancing away from the road for a few seconds, talking on a cell phone, or not obeying traffic laws can all have disastrous results. Should you become involved in an accident, there are several steps that you should follow.

Most motorists don’t even want to imagine that this can happen to them, but the probability can be very high depending when and where you are driving. The single most important thing to remember is to remain calm. Whether or not the accident is your fault, it benefits no one if you become agitated, angry and confrontational with the other driver involved. Yelling or swearing at the other person may make you feel better at that instant, but it can cause more problems in the long run. Angry feelings may escalate to physical violence and then that is just one more problem you must contend with. No one wants to be fined or jailed for an impulsive act that can affect their record for several years. So, remaining as calm and relaxed is essential, no matter how difficult it may seem.

After you have taken a deep breath, the first thing to do is to determine if there are any injuries and if so, call for medical assistance immediately. The severity of an injury may not be apparent right away, so the sooner an ambulance is dispatched, the sooner the injured can be treated. A few minutes and even a few seconds can be the difference between permanent injury, or life and death. Once medical assistance has been requested, immediately contact the police so that they may attend the scene. Both of these steps can be completed with one call to 911, rather than calling each department separately.

Exchange information with the other motorist. Collect their full name, address, phone number, and insurance information. More than likely, if the police attend the scene, all of this information will be included on the accident report, but it doesn’t hurt to collect it personally. Always ensure that you request a copy of the report for your records as well as for your insurance company. This is a huge factor in determining who is at fault, and whether or not your insurance premiums will increase.

Once the police arrive, always co-operate fully with them. They are there to assist you and it will not benefit anyone if your actions and behaviour hinder the investigation. The police are trained to handle these situations and they can determine who is at fault, and if any charges are to be laid. Law enforcement officers attend the scene well after the accident has occurred, so they do not initially know all of the facts. You should write every detail down regarding the accident, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Even the smallest issue may be the final determining factor in the decision of who is to be held responsible.

Insurance policies are designed to cover damages sustained in an auto accident. If your car is damaged, it is important to determine if it is still drivable. It is your responsibility, as the vehicle owner, to make sure that you prevent any further damage from occurring. If you decide to drive your vehicle after an accident has occurred, you run the risk of causing more damage and increasing the cost of pending repairs. If this is the case, you will be responsible for paying those damages over and above the ones resulting from the accident. Your insurance company will not cover these expenses. It is in your best interest to have your vehicle towed if possible to a garage so that there will be no possibility of additional damages.

Make sure to inform your insurance company as soon as possible of an accident. Disclose all details such as the time, date, and location that the accident occurred. Advise them of exactly what happened. Never withhold information as this could lead to your claim being denied. They will contact the other insurance company involved and work behind the scenes to finalize the claim. Ask your insurance agent if they offer an optional coverage to cover the use of a rental car should your vehicle be out of service for some time to be repaired. If the accident is deemed to be your fault, your rates will more than likely increase. Another important insurance to add is accident forgiveness. This coverage ‘forgives’ your first at fault accident so that your insurance company will not surcharge your policy. Keep on top of your claim by contacting your insurance company for regular status updates.

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