A car wreck can be a very traumatic experience. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a car crash happens every 5 seconds. During the holiday season, the statistics double. So regardless of how careful you are, chances are likely that you will be in a car wreck at some point in your lifetime. If you find yourself in a car wreck, there are some things you need to do immediately to ensure the safety and welfare of yourself, your passengers and other motorists.
1. The first thing you should do is secure both your car and passengers. Turn on your emergency flashers to signal other incoming vehicles. This should especially be done at night when the visibility is low. If you haven’t already called 911, do so. In most cases, bystanders have likely done it for you. While doing this, it is always a good idea to check on the state of your passengers. Some people in your vehicle may have suffered significant injuries. They may be scared and in a lot of pain. Do your best to comfort them until the ambulance arrives. One positive thing about an auto wreck is that other motorists will usually stop to assist.
2. If you are able, jot down all of the details of the accident. Accidents happen very quickly, so your memory could be a bit foggy. But there are important details you need to have available for your insurance company. The officer will have a form for all parties involved to fill out. He will take down his own notes and talk to passengers and witnesses. If the accident is pretty cut and dry, the officer will issue tickets at the scene. But for your own personal records, you will need:
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of all people involved
- Get witness information, especially if you need corroboration
- The time and location of the accident
- The weather and road conditions
- The make, model, year and license plates of all vehicles involved
- Insurance information from all drivers
- The injuries of all of your occupants and damage
- A diagram of your account of the accident
Be sure to put this information in a safe place like your glove box. You need to have this information on hand for your insurer and attorney, if needed. Car wrecks are hectic enough. Don’t cause yourself more stress by having to run down people for information. And if there are any complications at a later date, you can present your records to bolster your case.
3. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. In most cases, the insurance company requires that file an accident report within a certain number of days. In most cases, you have a 30-day window. If you miss that, they may refuse to pay. You need to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible getting your car repaired, renting a car and other incidentals involving insurance. This is also where the aforementioned paperwork comes in. If you have receipts for towing or storage fees, those should also be remitted to your insurance company.
A car crash can be a very traumatic experience. In some instances, it can be life-changing. Regardless of how unpleasant the situation may be, there are steps you must take to ensure your own protection. No two car wrecks are the same. The entire situation can cause you a great deal of stress. But if you follow some simple steps after the wreck, the experience can be far less traumatic.