A car accident occurs when one or more cars collide with an object or with each other. Car accidents are one of the most common types of accidents that happen on the road today. Unfortunately, car accidents can happen to anyone at any time and often result in serious injuries or even death.
If you’re involved in a car accident, you should do a few things to ensure your safety and protect your rights. Below are going to be a general take on what we believe are the best practices; this article won’t cover any medical or legal advice. However if you need to know what to do after an accident keep reading to know the steps.
The Steps to Handle a Car Accident
Have you ever asked yourself what you would do after a car accident? Most of us don’t want to ever think about a car accident, but it’s a reality many of us face without knowing how to handle it. However, we will review what we feel are the best practices after a car accident and hope you never have to experience something as negative as a car accident.
Step 1: Ensure you are okay
As soon as a car accident occurs, you will most likely have adrenaline pumping through your veins. You’ll probably want to jump out of the car and handle the situation regardless of fault. Before you jump out of the vehicle and handle reality, check on yourself and your passengers. Make sure you and everyone around you is okay and not injured.
Step 2: Observe the Situation
Many people jump out of their cars almost immediately to check on the other person after an accident. As admirable as that act may be, it’s not the best thing to do. You should observe your surroundings and see if other cars are around you that may put you in immediate danger if you get out of your vehicle.
You most likely won’t know who this other person is, or the state of mind they are in after an accident. You don’t know if they have anger issues or under the influence that may make them act irrationally. Also, high-stress situations may trigger people and react negatively. If you can, in this step, get the license plate and watch the other person and observe their actions.
Somethings to look out for:
- Are they visibly angry?
- Are they hitting their car or causing a scene?
- Are they cursing and yelling obscenities?
These are just a few of the red flags to look out for, again you don’t know this other person or what their intentions are. It’s best to be cautious and safe at this point in time.
Step 3: Call the Police
Regardless of how minor or significant a car accident is, call the police. You will want an official record of what happened and their opinion on the matter.
Police officers do not assign whose at fault, but they can interject who they feel is at fault and place that in the police report, so insurance companies can take into consideration. Their word holds a lot of weight.
Even if you are at fault for the accident, the police report is very valuable and will:
- Capture what happened according to everyone involved
- Document the exact time and place
- Notate property damage and injuries at the accident scene
The police report won’t be your saving grace. It’s just the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be done to help you in the long run through this grueling process.
It will help prevent the other party from making things up later when the insurance company is concerned and establish the events that occurred by all the parties. At the same time, it’s fresh in everyone’s mind.
Step 4: Exchange Information
This step is nerve-racking, but you will have to exchange information. You will need to give your license and insurance information and get the other person’s license and information regardless of who is at fault. Taking pictures of the documents is a standard custom in this situation.
However, when you exchange information, it’s best to limit conversation. Do not admit fault, and do not disclose what you think happened. When the police come to do the report, they will have all that information included for the report.
Step 5: Start documenting
You will be at the scene for a while, depending on how bad the accident is. Taking pictures is the best thing to do in this situation, regardless of whether the accident is a clear-cut liability for or against you.
Take photos of everything, including:
- All vehicles involved and get all four points of the vehicle
- The damage, even your car
- Property damage that may have been involved in the accident. For example, light poles, signs, guard rails, private property such as houses, and personal property such as phones, eyeglasses, or jewelry.
The more documentation you have, the better, even if you don’t believe you will need it. You never know what you will need, and if there is a claim against you or if you have a claim against someone else, you will want all the evidence you can have at your disposal.
After getting all the needed photos, you should start figuring out what happened. So that way, when you speak to the police, you can articulate to them precisely what happened in a calm and precise manner.
Step 6: Call Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance as soon as possible to file the accident with them. Regardless if you are at fault or not, most insurance companies require you to at least file a report with them. You will be assigned an adjuster to cover the entire process and designate who is at fault for the accident.
What to expect during the insurance process after a car Accident?
After the accident and you are in a safe and calm environment, you should call your insurance company as soon as possible. Regardless of who is at fault, you need to speak with someone who knows the state laws, rules, and regulations which are drastically different in every state.
Your insurance company is vested in your well-being, and the property insured. So calling your insurance company is the best bet to form a game plan on what you need to do and how you can go forward. Below are what you can expect during the process.
Filing a Claim
Filing your first notice of loss will be lengthy, depending on how many vehicles are involved and how complex the accident was. However, your first call to your insurance company will lay down the foundation for how the process will go, so give all the photos you took. Once the claim is filed, you will be assigned a claim adjuster that will investigate the claim.
Coverage and Claim Investigation
Your claim adjuster will go over the entire process of what to expect. They are in charge of investigating the claim, reviewing coverages, and the repair process (if applicable). They will most likely request a recorded statement from every individual involved in the accident so that they can understand how the accident occurred.
Once your adjuster has all the necessary information, including pictures, recorded statements, and police reports, they can finalize liability. Once liability is formed, they are required to let you know if you are at fault or not and what the percentage of the liability is, if any. They will then go over what to expect from there.
After everything is all said and done and your car is fixed, the insurance companies will go through the subrogation process. If you are deemed at fault, your insurance company will reimburse the other insurance company up to your policy limits.
If you are deemed not at fault, your insurance company will be reimbursed for what they paid for and recoup the deductible you paid. This is the very last part of the process. However, it can also be the longest part of the process. It can take over a year to be resolved.
Car accidents aren’t fun for anybody. Even the professionals that deal with them on a day-to-day basis find them to be complicated. However, this is just a general take on what to expect.
This hasn’t even gone over the fact that if there are injuries involved, it can get very messy and litigious if this is more than a fender bender. It’s always best to drive safely and do your best to avoid all accident’s. But that’s easier said than done and sometimes it’s just not avoidable. So drive safe and keep alert on the road.
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Dash cameras are a valuable tool while driving, especially if in an accident. However, we want to avoid all accidents. It can be beneficial to know that your side of the story will be proved with actual footage of a potential accident. It can be a helpful tool to have in your car, dispute adverse liability against the other party, and protect your assets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the most common car accidents?
A: There are many types of car accidents, but the most common are rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, and side-impact collisions. Rear-end collisions occur when one car hits another from behind. These accidents are usually caused by following too closely, or by speeding. Head-on collisions happen when two cars collide head-on, and can be very serious. Side-impact collisions, also called T-bone accidents, occur when one car hits another from the side. These accidents often happen at intersections.
Q: What are the main causes of a car accident?
A: Car accidents are mainly caused by human error, such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or simply not paying attention. Other causes can include mechanical problems with the car, bad weather conditions, and even animals crossing the road. Car accidents can have devastating consequences, so it is important to be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid them.
Q: What time of day a car accident is likely to happen?
A: Car accidents are most likely to occur during the evening rush hour, between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. This is when traffic is heaviest and people are rushing to get home from work or school. Car accidents are also more likely to occur on Fridays than any other day of the week. This is because people are eager to start their weekends and may be more careless on the road.