How to Safely Handle a Car Accident

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There’s no such thing as an “easy” car accident. Unexpected accidents leave you disoriented and confused. Sometimes, it’s difficult to piece together what is happening. Whether it’s a fender-bender or a more serious accident, it’s important to know how to handle yourself. From gathering details to deciding whether to pursue legal action, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you are in a car accident.

Safety First

The moments following a car accident are the most jarring. They’re also when you need to be most alert. Do your best to remain calm so you’re better able to assess the situation. If you’re able to and aren’t seriously injured, move your car out of traffic. Stop your vehicle, get out, and check on the others involved in the accident, as well. If anyone is injured, call an ambulance before contacting authorities.

Once you’ve checked on all parties involved, call the police. Give them your name, your phone number, and your approximate location. In the time leading up to their arrival, you need to stay put. If you leave the scene of the accident, it could be classified as a hit and run, no matter how minor.

Gathering Evidence

This is one of the most important steps you need to take after a car accident. While you await the arrival of the police, you need to spend your time gathering information about the accident. This includes names, insurance information, vehicle descriptions, and license plate numbers. If there are any nearby witnesses that are willing to give a statement, be sure to speak with them.

Photographs are important, too. Take photos of the damages on all involved vehicles as well as any scrapes, scratches, and bruises. Physical wounds begin to heal faster than you might suspect and taking a picture of your injuries will be more impactful now as opposed to a week or two after the accident.

Police Reports

Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not want your own copy of the official police report. Outside of the evidence you gather, it is the most substantial narrative of what caused the accident. Needless to say, it’s a major factor when it comes to insurance claims as well as determining fault.

While it’s beneficial to request a copy of the report during the aftermath of the accident, there are ways to gain a copy if a report identification number isn’t provided to you. The first is by contacting the traffic division of the local police department that responded to the accident with the date, location, and time of the accident. The second is by contacting a representative of your insurance agency to see if they requested a report for your claim.

Legal Recourse

Knowing when to hire a car accident lawyer is a tricky situation. If it’s a minor accident, you may be able to settle it with the other driver. However, there are plenty of scenarios in which you’ll need legal representation. If you aren’t at fault for the accident, are wrongly accused of being at fault, or are injured during the accident, you may have a compelling legal case on your hands. Also, if you suspect your insurance agency has substantiality devalued your claim, an attorney is a useful investment to help you recoup your losses.

One Step at a Time

Being prepared for a car accident is a must. When you share the road with people texting and driving, talking on their phones, and behaving recklessly, you are at a much higher risk for an accident. By knowing how to handle yourself, you are well ahead of the curve. Remember to always drive defensively. After all, the best way to handle an accident is by preventing it from happening in the first place.