Every year, thousands of folks are involved in vehicle accidents. I’ve been lucky; so far I’ve only had one car accident, which happened two years ago. I was run off the road by a motorist who didn’t see me as he changed lanes, causing me to jump the curb, hit a pole sticking up out of the ground and land smack dab in the middle of someone’s front yard. Since I was suddenly headed downhill, had it not been for a retaining wall in the yard, I don’t know how far I would have gone before the brakes were finally able to stop my vehicle. It happened so fast one minute I was cruising along at 30 mph on a road a take every day and the next minute I was faced with having to make decisions in the blink of an eye. Had I not decided to turn sharply to the left to avoid hitting the car that didn’t see me, the driver would have been killed, his passenger badly injured and I would have ended up in the hospital. The police told me that my quick thinking saved the lives of everyone involved. In the end, the only damage was to my vehicle and to the nice lawn I landed in and I actually did land in the lawn as opposed to on the lawn, since after hitting the pole which was jutting up from the ground, my car was air born for a good few seconds. When it finally landed, it went on a downhill slide pretty fast and the retaining wall I hit on the other side managed to stop my car.
Many of us aren’t expecting an accident to occur when we get behind the wheel, let alone know what to do when we’re involved in one. Here are some helpful tips that will hopefully steer you in the right direction.
1. Be certain to keep these things in your glove box at all times:
â€¢ Pen or pencil
â€¢ Disposable camera
â€¢ Emergency numbers
â€¢ Insurance cards
2. Stay calm so you can think clearly.
3. If you have a cell phone, call the police immediately. Inform the police dispatcher of the accident, relaying as much information as you possibly can, such as your name, location, number of vehicles involved and any injuries. If you don’t know your exact location, look for a street sign. If you can’t find a street sign, look for a landmark. If there are injuries, tell the dispatcher immediately so he/she can also alert other emergency services. If you are unsure of any injuries, tell the dispatcher you are unsure if any injuries have occurred.
4. Exchange information at the scene. This should at least include name, address, phone number, insurance company, driver’s license number and plate number for all drivers and owners of the vehicles involved. You can also take notes on the description of the vehicles, including year, make, model, etc., and the location of the accident. If you would rather wait until the police arrive before making any statements or exchanging any information, you certainly can. In fact, that’s exactly what I did.
5. Use your camera to take photos of the vehicles to document the damage.
6. If there are any witnesses, attempt to get their contact information. There were witnesses to my accident who pulled over immediately. One stayed until the police arrived and in doing so, the police were able to take her statement and get her contact information.
7. Get the name of all police officers who arrive at the scene. You may need this information if there are any problems later.
8. File an accident report. Depending on your area of the country, you may be required to file an accident report yourself if there are no injuries involved. The paperwork is available at the police station or on the Department of Motor Vehicles website. A police report will be needed for most insurance claims.
9. Contact your insurance company immediately or as soon as possible to report the accident. Never agree to handle the damages between parties – especially if the accident seems minor – because this rarely works out well. The other driver may agree to pay for damages to your vehicle and then change his/her mind. The other driver(s) may also decide to report the accident to the insurance company without your knowledge or may even claim injuries later on.
10. Never admit fault or say anything at the scene which may incriminate you later on. Let the police and insurance companies sort it out. What may seem to be your fault at the onset may not be your fault in the end.