What To Do After A Car Accident: 5 Steps To Take
Posted by: Lydia on 7/08/2018
A car accident will always be unpleasant. There is no silver lining when it comes to an event that can be upsetting, expensive, and even dangerous. While no driver wants to be involved in a car crash, sadly some accidents are just unavoidable. Even so, there can be a big difference between having a bad crash and having a bad experience afterwards.
What happens immediately after a car accident is not solely a question of proper procedure with your insurance company. It’s also about completing tasks that keep you safe and ensure the safety of anyone else involved in the crash.
Here are five essential steps you should take if a car accident occurs.
1.Check your surroundings
Most crashes will be upsetting but not serious or life-threatening. This means your car may sustain some panel damage, but it likely won’t flip over. Given the safety systems in place today to prevent fuel leakage, it likely won’t catch fire. It’s best to get out of the vehicle as soon as possible if it’s damaged, but be sure to check your surroundings first.
Keep in mind there may be other cars still involved in the crash coming to a stop. There is also the risk that other cars may still be coming through the danger zone. If other cars could potentially crash into your vehicle, the safest move for you is usually to stay in the car. If you have surveyed the scene and it's clear no other cars will crash, it’s then fine to exit the car.
Once you have exited the car, it’s important to keep safety top of mind. Given you’ve crashed on a road, getting off the road as fast as possible is important. If you can also safely move the cars off the road (either by driving them, if safe to do so, or by pushing them with the help of others), that’s ideal.
After a crash, other cars around you will either move on or come to a complete stop. Some good citizens may even park their cars alongside yours with hazard lights to ensure there is a barrier so no other vehicle may hit you.
Remember that cars can still enter the scene at any time. Getting hit while inside your car isn’t ideal, but it’s way more dangerous if you get hit by another vehicle while you’re standing outside your car.
2. Check on the other people involved
Once you have exited the car, it’s time to check in with the other people involved in the accident.
Check if anyone is seriously injured or needs medical attention. If they do, that must take priority. If they do not, you can proceed to swapping information like contact details and your insurance information. Be sure the place you pick to exchange information with the other driver is safe and doesn’t put either of you at risk for another accident.
Once the initial contact has been made with other drivers, it's wise to survey the scene. If your vehicle requires towing, call the police for a report. If it's just a small fender bender, you may not need to involve the police. The same applies to paramedics. If everyone is fine and reports no injuries, you may not need to call for medical help. If there is any reason at all - or if someone’s condition worsens - call for an ambulance straight away.
Another danger to look out for is any drivers or passengers who are angry and keen to engage in road rage. Whether it was your fault, their fault, or a freak accident, there is no excuse for any aggression or abuse.
It is natural for people to feel upset after a car accident. But if you feel threatened at any time, go back to your car, lock it and call the police. Even if someone does have a reason to be angry with you, they will have plenty of time to air their grievances with their insurance company. At this stage, the crash has happened and any form of aggression or violence will only make things worse.
3. Wait before you drive away
A car accident is upsetting. You’re not only scared but you also have to worry about things like insurance, repairs to your car and all of the paperwork you’ll have to do. It can be tempting if your car is undamaged to just drive away and “get on with it.”
It’s a sad reality that 2017 saw 1,226 Australians pass away in car accidents. If you are able to drive away from the scene, you can consider yourself very lucky. Of course, you should only leave the scene once you have completed steps one and two above, insuring the area and the other people and vehicles involved in the accident are fine as well.
However, if you feel shaken by the experience, it is important to be honest with yourself. Call a friend or family member to pick you up. It is better to come back for your car later than to drive off upset and unfocused and risk getting into another accident.
4. Contact your insurance company
Once you are away from the scene, it’s important to contact your insurance company. Even if you choose to do this initially at the scene, it’s likely you will need to follow up with them later on once the particulars of the crash become clear. You’ll also need to follow up once your insurer has heard from the other driver and their insurer. This part is pretty straightforward, your insurance company will walk you through it, but be sure to take good notes along the way and ask any questions you might have.
5. Review and reflect
Once you are back at home, you have a chance to review the car accident experience. If you were at fault, you can think about what went wrong and decide how you would like to move forward. For example, you might commit to lowering your speed or enrolling in driving lessons. If the accident was not your fault, you may want to consider defensive techniques you can utilise in the future to avoid a similar scene.
Either way, reviewing the accident and thinking about how to avoid it in the future is always a good idea.
You may also want to write down some notes about the car accident while your memory of the events is still clear. These notes can come in handy if the police or insurance companies have any questions later on. It’s best to write these notes as soon as you can, as your memory may fade over time.
What other tips do you have for dealing with a car accident? Let us know in the comments below.