Steps to Take in the Event of a Car Accident

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I happened to be working from home today and decided to run some errands this morning. The plan was to head to CVS and the post office and then just return home. I finished my last errand and walked out to the parking lot in time to watch a big Toyota Tundra back into my car. It’s a horrible feeling for both parties when accidents happen. The other driver didn’t mean to do it and, of course, I didn’t want my car to get hit. We went through the routine steps after an accident has happened and both went on our way.

All in all, it was a pretty smooth car accident. Smooth as in it happened, we dealt with it, and in short time went on our way. It isn’t always so easy. Sometimes the other driver can deny fault or absolutely blame you instead.

Car accidents are something that we all hope we never have to deal with. Unfortunately, they do happen no matter how much we try to avoid them. It could be a combination of factors that led to it: simple bad driving, neglect, or just plain not paying attention. Either way, regardless of who is at fault, there are steps you can take to minimize the financial and emotional impact of a car accident.

Stay Calm
There is always the initial shock and outburst after you see your car get hit. Vice versa, there is that “oh crap” moment when you realize you just hit someone’s car. Try to stay as calm as possible though. Yelling and acting emotional only makes the situation worse. You need a calm head to make sure you get all the necessary information from the other driver. If the other driver is in denial, freaking out, or yelling at you, keeping calm helps the situation also. You’ll come through much better in the end if you can keep a cool head. At times, you’ll even have to be the person to help the other driver, whether or not it was your fault. No matter what, the other driver is human too. Even if they caused the accident, it’s not like they did it on purpose.

Note the Time, Date, and Location
Always note the time, the day, and where exactly it happened. These are simple details that your insurance company will ask you if you end up reporting the accident.

Exchange Information
No matter what, you should always exchange driver’s license and auto insurance information. If the other driver insists on settling it privately, you should still get their information. Doing so protects you in case the other driver decides to not follow through after they leave. You’ll then have their information so that you can report it properly to your insurance company. No matter how you settle the accident, this is an essential step. If you happen to have a camera with you, take a photo of their cards so you don’t have to write it all down. It’s much easier and you won’t miss anything.

Take Pictures
Always take pictures of any damage to both cars. Even if the other car doesn’t have any damage from the accident, take a photo of the point of impact to prove that. Also, take pictures showing the area, and try to get both cars in it. This will help greatly if the other driver tells a different story.

Take Additional Steps to Protect Yourself
Was anyone else there when the accident occurred? Witnesses are important if the accident turns into one where neither driver admits fault. Both insurance companies will back their insurer and the case could take months to resolve. Eventually, the case will be decided by arbitration. It goes without saying that you need to make sure the witness saw the accident correctly. I know of one accident my friend was in where a car side-swept her car. Two witnesses walked up and claimed that she had caused the accident. Fortunately, the damage on her car showed that she was not at fault.

If the accident is severe, call the police and create a report. A warning though that the police may not file any report if the damage is minor and there were no injuries.

If you happen to be in a business area, try to see if you can find a security guard. I filed a report with the security office just in case. If you’re lucky, they might have some security cameras that caught the entire accident. Much better than an eye witness who might or might not accurately report the accident.

 Write Down Exactly What Happened
After the accident, write down exactly what happened to cause the accident. Doing this the same day will put in writing the details you freshly remember. You won’t forget pieces, and you’ll know exactly what to tell the insurance company.

It’s unfortunate that accidents will occur no matter what you do. Taking the proper steps afterward will make a big difference. You’ll have done what you were supposed to and hopefully minimized your financial damage. Privately, you can settle the accident or go through insurance to determine who is at fault.

Do you have any additional tips on what to do after an accident occurs?

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