You are cruising nicely along the highway, humming a tune to yourself when suddenly you find yourself being blinded by strong lights from a car hurtling along the wrong side of the road. In a matter of minutes you have crashed into the other car.
Car accidents and collisions can occur unexpectedly and can be extremely stressful. It can happen to anyone, and even the most careful drivers have had auto collisions at some time or the other. It can involve collision with another vehicle, animals, pedestrians and stationary obstructions like lampposts or electricity poles.
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, 37,133 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. In the majority of cases, there are property damages and extensive financial loss.
However, sometimes the occupants of the car may be injured as well. Even if you are not physically injured, the panic and the anger that can arise after a collision can cloud your judgment and make it hard for you to do the right things.
The first reaction after a crash is generally, fight or flight. One may lash out at the other driver angrily or leave the scene immediately. However, this can prove to be a costly mistake which might even lead to legal penalties. To avoid making any such mistakes, here is simple checklist that will help you in the difficult and scary situation.
Checklist: What to Avoid After a Car Accident
For example, imagine having a car collision on the middle of the road and then in that fuzzy state of mind wandering around your car, putting yourself in danger of being hurt by the speeding traffic. Instead, it is best to calm down, clear your thoughts, and if possible move your car out of harm's way.
In certain states it is illegal to move the vehicle from the crash site, so make sure you know the law in your state regarding this. In case of extensive car damage where it is not possible to move the car, switch on the hazard lights and call for help.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is never to admit that it was your fault. By doing so, and apologizing on the scene, you are admitting to the accident. This could lead to legal and other penalties being levied against you.
So, apart from bearing the liability for the accident, you would also be inviting criminal charges. If it is dark then keep the flashlights on, or set up flares to alert people about the accident.
Usually in case of minor accidents, the law enforcement officers do not respond. However, it is best to call 911 or the emergency assistance number to ensure that you have an accident report. This report will be needed for making insurance claims. If someone is injured then call for medical aid as well.
You also need to make a note of:
- The time and date of the accident
- The vehicle details which include the model, color and registration number of the car
- Weather and visibility
- The entire course of events prior to the accident, that includes the sketches of the position of the vehicles, the speed at each party involved was driving and the entire scene of the accident.
- Insurance details of the other driver including insurance company name, number and insurance policy number.
- Damage to the vehicles and injuries if any.
- Details of the investigating officer and the police report number
While the police officers record these details as well, it is best to keep a personal record of this information as it would help while making an insurance claim. Along with detailed notes, you can also try to take some pictures of the crash.
It is also important not to sign any authorization for records or written statement for the other driver's insurance agency. Wait till you consult an attorney who will provide information and protect your rights.
It is also important to check your insurance before being involved in accidents. This will help you keep a tab on whether the motor vehicle insurance covers medical benefits or not. You will also be required to provide the entire details of the accident, along with the date and the time.
Refusing Medical Treatment
Unless it is a major accident that involves injuries, people tend to overlook the available medical assistance. However, some injuries are not apparent especially, immediately after an accident.
It is best to get yourself checked by a doctor to rule out any possible internal or other injuries. Not only is this crucial for your health but the receipts from the medical treatment will also help in the settlement process.
Once you are home, organize all the documents related to the accident including the claim number, claim-related documents, phone numbers of the driver, witnesses and receipts of any expenses that you might have incurred after the accident.
This list of things to avoid in case of an accident can help you in case of an emergency. However, it is best to keep certain things like cell phone, medical emergency card, emergency contact numbers, first aid kits, emergency flares, pen paper and a disposable camera (if possible) in an emergency kit before you hit the road.