Car Accidents Happen whether you’re ready or not.
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration approximately 5.25 million drivers get into some sort of traffic accident annually. Statistically motor vehicle accidents occur somewhere in the world every minute. During a five year period the Traffic Administration reported that 25% of the driving population had encountered or were involved in some sort of car crash. That being said, throughout a person’s lifetime it is almost impossible to avoid getting into some sort of collision, so it is definitely a wise idea to ensure that you and your family are prepared.
Prepare your car ahead of time
Always keep an emergency kit in your family’s vehicle, preferably somewhere easily accessible like the glove compartment. Most people carry cell phones on them today, but just to reiterate, the driver of the vehicle should always carry a cell phone for emergency situations. They should also keep a pen and notepad in the car and a disposable camera in order to photograph the damaged vehicles at the scene of the accident. It is also a wise idea to keep a card in the vehicle with health information such as medical allergies or preexisting conditions that may require immediate attention from first respondents at the accident. There are a few companies on the market that offer comprehensive kits which include a flashlight, reusable camera, and accident documentation for as little as $20. These kits are an easy solution to prepare you for future car collisions. As an extra precaution, keep a set of cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares in the trunk of the vehicle to give an advanced warning to other drivers on the road who are approaching the accident.
For peace of mind you should always know exactly what type of insurance policy you are paying for so you are aware of what damages your company will cover for you. Being knowledgeable of your policy ahead of time makes the process of exchanging information much easier after an accident, since you already know the details of your own policy. It is best to be aware of whether or not your company will cover things like a rental car or a tow truck that can transport your vehicle from the scene of the accident. Knowing in advance that for only a few extra dollars a month, you can easily leave the scene of a car crash will definitely give you some peace of mind and help you get on with your day.
Paying for the damage to your car
Another major decision people face after accidents is figuring out who pays for the damage done to the vehicles. In some situations both drivers agree that the damage is minimal and not worth the trouble of going through insurance companies. Although this may seem like an easy solution at the time, it can end up backfiring if the other person involved decides that the repair bills are too high once an estimate from the mechanic is conducted. At this point some time has gone by and your insurance company will have a much more difficult time piecing together what happened on the day of the accident.
It is always a good idea to report the accident to your insurance company. It is hard to tell whether or not the other driver will change their mind and report the accident to their insurance company at a later date, this could potentially leave you liable since you never made a claim with your company in the first place. The other driver involved can even claim injuries a few days after the incident, forcing your insurance company to pay for the extra medical bills and inevitably raising your monthly rates. You could even end up in court dealing with a lawsuit that could have easily been prevented in the first place. In order to avoid any further complications down the road it’s best to make sure that your insurance company has your version of the incident as early as possible. In some situations the damage is so minimal that your insurance rates will not increase since the costs did not pass a predetermined amount set by the insurance company. Filing a claim with your insurance company will save you a lot of grief, let them deal with the frustrating details of the accident.
What do you do at the scene of the car accident?
If you have ever been in an accident or know someone who has experienced one you should be well aware of the nerve-racking feelings that go along with them. Accidents can be very emotional situations; you may not be able to think very clearly after being involved in one. It is always best to keep a clear mind by staying prepared mentally ahead of time just in case you are involved in a car collision.
After a car accident occurs, you should always try to stay as calm as possible.
If you aren’t seriously injured take a few moments to catch your breath and relax. Dealing with the aftermath of a car collision will be a lot less stressful if you don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you or someone in the vehicle is injured and it is an emergency immediately call 9-1-1 and explain the situation to them. Explain to them who it is that’s injured, what type of injury, and where you are. Stay on the line with emergency personnel until directed to hang-up.
For accidents that did not result in any serious injuries, move the car to the side of the road out of harm’s way in order to prevent any further damage to your vehicle or the passengers inside of it. Leaving a car parked in the middle of a busy road could cause another collision with the vehicle or create a traffic jam. If you would still like emergency personnel to come to the scene of the accident in some cases you can ask them to mediate the situation and they will come to assist in whatever way they can. If for some reason the car cannot be moved the passengers and driver should stay inside of the vehicle with their seat belts securely fastened until emergency personnel arrive. Make sure to turn on the hazard lights and if the vehicle is stopped in a safe area set out warning flares, cones, or signs.
Exchange Information with the other driver
After ensuring that everyone in the vehicle is safe and it is okay to leave the vehicle the driver should communicate with the other person involved in the accident and exchange their information. Both drivers should exchange their names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance companies, policy numbers, and license plate numbers. It is also beneficial to take down a brief description of the car, such as its make, model, color, year, and the exact location of the accident. If there are any witnesses at the scene of the car crash, take down their contact information in case you need to argue your case. Be polite, but never tell the other driver or the police that the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.
Once you have exchanged personal information with the other driver you should begin to photograph and document the accident. Use your camera to document the damage to all of the vehicles involved. You should document the accident in order to accurately make a case with insurance companies. Documenting the scene of the accident can be one of the most beneficial pieces of evidence in your case.
In some situations law enforcement may not respond to an accident if there are no injuries. If that is the case drivers should file a state vehicle accident report on their own. The report can be found on the Department of Motor Vehicles web site or at local police stations. Filing a police report will help speed up the process of filing a claim for the insurance companies involved.
We know how stressful a vehicle collision can be.
Know your rights. Speak to an attorney first.
Accidents seem like they have almost become an inevitable part of driving. They can be a physical and emotional drain on those involved and leave a person with a lot of unanswered questions. By properly preparing yourself in advance for an automobile accident you can greatly reduce your risk of being liable and speed up the process of getting your life back on track. If you have been involved in a car collision or motor vehicle accident, it’s important to call a skilled car crash attorney at The Heslin Law Firm. We offer free consultations for clients in Philadelphia. Call our office at 215-332-0300.