Nobody wants to get into a car accident, but the odds are pretty good that it’s going to happen to you at some point in your life. And if it does finally happen, it might be your fault. But don’t panic. Follow these three key steps to navigate the situation without making things worse than they need to be.
Do Not Admit Fault
I know this feels a little weird. For most decent, honest people, the initial urge after causing an accident will be to admit that the accident was their fault, to apologize profusely and then to try to make things right. That all sounds great and noble, but nearly every expert on the planet will tell you that it’s not a smart idea and could cause you a lot of problems down the road. That doesn’t mean that you should lie and deny that it was your fault, of course. But you will need to fight the urge to use good manners and instead just get down to business.
There are also situations where you might think mistakenly assume that it was all your fault when it wasn’t. Perhaps you changed lanes on the freeway and hit another car because you didn’t see it coming. Well, you might think it was all your fault, but what you might not realize is that the other driver was actually two lanes over and hastily cut across two lanes to avoid missing his exit – all while looking at his cell phone’s GPS.
You don’t know for sure, so just go with the experts on this one and don’t admit fault.
Instead, focus on other, more important matters such as first pulling your vehicles out of the line of traffic to a safer location on the side of the road, if possible. Next you should be checking to see if anyone is injured and if medical personnel should be called. Safety really should be the first concern. Then you move on to the rest of the things on this list.
Exchange Insurance Information
When an auto accident appears to be only a minor collision with little or no visible damage, a lot of people prefer to handle it right there on the spot by offering some cash. And sometimes both parties agree that it’s no big deal and then they both decide to drive off and continue on their way without any exchange of money or info.
This might sound like a great outcome, especially if you believe you are at fault. But this option might come back to bite you in a big way.
There have been cases where both parties thought no damage was done and left the scene, only to later have one party decide to file a hit-and-run and file a lawsuit for injuries and other damages. If this happens and you never exchanged insurance info and never reported the accident, it’s going to be your word against theirs, and the authorities might rule against you harshly.
So just play it safe. Get the other driver’s insurance info and then report the accident to the police and to your insurance company. You should also take some quick photos of your car and the other car just to show the extent of the damages. You don’t want to be held liable for damages that never actually happened during this incident.
Call The Police To Report The Accident
It’s always a good idea to get a third party involved, even when it doesn’t seem necessary. As discussed above, in rare occasions the other party might decide to exaggerate the extent of the damages or even outright lie about what happened, so it’s good to have police document the incident as soon as possible to set the story straight right from the beginning. This is for your own protection and benefit.
It can take a while for the police to arrive, so just be patient. While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, that’s a good time to take photos of the vehicles and of the surrounding area, in case you need to explain and verify what happened.
Once that’s done, just stay in your vehicle while you’re waiting. Again, you don’t really want to be standing around with the other driver where a conversation might come up and you end up putting your foot in your mouth by admitting fault.
You won’t be getting into automobile accidents very often, but when the time comes, be sure to be prepared. Follow these steps and you’ll get through it and get on with your life with as few complications as possible.