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When a car crash occurs, your response will likely be instinctive. However, the more you know about what to do after a car crash, the better prepared you will be. When you are in an accident, it’s important to follow the protocol. This will help ensure your safety and that of others involved in the accident.
Not all car crashes are the same. You want to be sure your insurance will cover you no matter how severe the crash. It’s critical to know your auto insurance coverage and increase it now if needed. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and purchase more a higher amount of auto insurance than you think you need.
One of the most important things you can do to keep your kids safe in the car is ensure they always buckle up. Seat belts and car seats save lives, so using them every time your family gets in the car is crucial.
Here are some tips for what to do after a car crash:
- Stop your vehicle.
- Assess whether or not you and your passengers have any injuries.
- Call the police and report the accident to them as soon as possible.
Stop Your Vehicle
It’s important to stop your vehicle. You could be putting yourself and others in danger if you don’t. If the accident is minor, you can move your vehicle to the side of the road. If it’s more serious, leave your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights.
Check if You or Your Passengers are Injured
After an accident, the first thing to do is to check for injuries. If any of your passengers are injured and need medical attention, call an ambulance as soon as possible. Depending on the crash circumstances and injury, try to leave the passenger in the vehicle until emergency personnel arrive.
It’s good practice for drivers — and passengers — to have basic first aid training classes before ever getting behind the wheel themselves in case they experience a vehicular accident!
If you are not injured and your car is able to be driven, move to the next step.
Move Your Vehicle Off the Road if Possible
If you can still drive your car, move your vehicle off the road to get it out of the way of traffic. But if you can’t, put on your hazard lights and wait for help to arrive.
If you get out of your car, walk away from the scene as quickly as possible. This will help protect you from further injury if debris is on the road that could hurt someone when a car passes over it.
Call the Police
For most crashes, the next step is to call the police and report the accident. If it was a minor fender bender and the cars are safely moved out of the way, you may be able to skip this step (and move directly to the next step).
Ask a witness to call the police, if you do not have a phone or your phone was damaged in the crash. If there is no safe place to wait for police, call from inside a building and let first responders know where you will be waiting.
Exchange Information With the Other Driver
When you are involved in a car accident, it is important to exchange information with the other driver. Give the other driver your name, phone number and insurance information so they can contact you if they need help or have any questions. And get their information in return.
Ask if they are okay or injured and if they need medical attention. Ensure everyone involved is wearing their seat belt during an accident (including children).
Take Photos Of the Scene
As you’re assessing the damage, take photos of the scene. You can do this from different angles and with a variety of equipment.
Take photos of your car, license plate, and driver(s). Photos help in insurance claims later on, especially if someone was injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Take photos of your passengers and their injuries — especially if they are visible in front or rear view mirrors.
The crash may have damaged your child’s car seat. It’s important to check whether the car seat needs to be replaced before using it again. If you’re unsure whether your car seat will need to be replaced, you can check with the manufacturer.
Get a Copy of Your Report
Often a crowd will gather after a car crash. They may be witnesses wanting to offer their side of the event to police. Or they may be trying to figure out what’s happening and whether someone was injured or killed. Try to stay in one place so that emergency personnel know where you are if they need more information from you later down the road.
You want them to get as much information as they need to file an accurate report.
And don’t leave until someone qualified (like a police officer) tells you it’s safe for everyone involved in the situation to go. This can mean waiting hours after such an incident occurs.
When you do leave, remain as calm as you can. Stress can lead many drivers to make unsafe decisions. It may be best to have someone else drive you home, if possible.
When you are able, get a copy of the incident report to share with your insurance company.
Notify Your Insurance Company
After an accident, you should notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurance company will need to know what happened to begin investigating the claim.
Your insurance company will also want to know if there were any injuries or damages due to the accident. Be sure to keep all receipts and documentation relating to any repairs or medical treatment so that you can provide this to your insurance company when they request it.
After a car crash, do your best to stay calm and follow the protocol. This will help you get through it quickly and safely. Panic or anger can make you less likely to follow directions from first responders or other emergency personnel.
Guest post: Cynthia Garcia is a content champion for a variety of online publications. She often covers topics that cater to business owners and entrepreneurs with a strong focus on finance for startups, lifestyle, family, productivity, management, and a few other topics.
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