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What Should I Do If I Am In A Car Accident?

No one wants to be in a car accident, but the chances are all of us will be involved in a car accident of some severity at some point in our lives. Knowing how to handle various car accident scenarios can make a difference between problems being taken care of immediately and future issues arising which will cost you time, money, and anxiety.

What should you do if you are involved in a car accident? Here is a checklist of common issues and how to handle them.

  1. Safety first. Your first priority in any car accident is to make sure every person in every car involved is uninjured. If there is the slightest possibility that someone is hurt, call 911 and ask for emergency medical services. This applies even if there are not obvious serious injuries; people have suffered heart attacks and other problems after car accidents, so it is better to be safe than sorry. You should avoid moving the vehicles unless someone is in danger or the cars are blocking the road in such a way as to make it likely that another accident could happen, such as on a busy highway. You should always avoid removing victims from cars unless they are in imminent danger of harm.
  2. Call the police. Once you have determined that everyone is unhurt, a call to the police is in order. It does not matter if the accident was “minor”; without a police report, it will be your word against the other driver’s as to what happened. Do not argue fault with the other driver, or answer any accusations; let the police sort it out. Answer questions honestly and try to keep emotion out of it. Some drivers are upset and belligerent after an accident; while it may be hard, keep your cool. Police reports are available a few days after an accident, so you can pick one up at your local police department and take it to your insurance agent.
  3. Exchange information. While the police will note all this information, it is a good idea to get the other driver’s insurance information, name, and license plate number. You can call your agent with this information prior to picking up the police report. You should also give this information to the other driver if you are asked.
  4. Contact your insurance agent. Your agent will be able to tell you if you are required to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or if there are any other actions you should take. Your agent can also explain the process of filing your claim and help you to do so. If you are at fault in the accident, you will be contacted by your own company and possibly by the other person’s insurance company. Any questions should be directed to your agent or your adjustor.
  5. Meet with insurance representatives. If your car was damaged, an adjustor may want to take pictures of the damage and interview you. If it is your own company, this may be done by phone. If it is another company, you may be asked to meet with an adjustor or investigator. Talk to your agent if you have any questions.

By safeguarding your rights after a car accident, you will help to protect yourself from frivolous or unjust claims. A good relationship with your insurance company is essential at this time; in these cases, it pays to have insurance with a company which provides good customer support.