Just as some people behave arrogantly about not ever receiving a traffic ticket, there are those who are equally boastful about never having a traffic accident. Just as I tell those who brag about not getting a traffic ticket, “Bragging is like the kiss of death. Your turn is coming.” If you drive long enough and frequently enough, you will be involved in a traffic accident – it’s a matter of statistics. It doesn’t matter how skillful a driver you may be, sooner or later the circumstances will be right to involve you in an accident. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When this occurs, you will need some direction on how to proceed.
The gamut of emotions one feels when involved in an accident is tremendous. Even after the initial impact, it takes a moment or two to get your wits about you to assess what just happened and the severity of the circumstances. Fortunately, a large portion of car accidents are not terribly severe, so let’s consider what you should do assuming any accident you may be in is one of minor severity.
The foremost concern when involved in a car accident is whether or not anyone in either vehicle has sustained injuries. Ask everyone involved if they are alright, hopefully in the presence of others so no one can come back later and make a false claim of injuries. Sadly, many people use minor traffic accidents as an opportunity to line their pockets, even if no real injury occurred. Once you have established whether or not someone has sustained any injuries, contact the police department. It is a major mistake to think that just because it is a minor accident with no injuries that the police don’t need to be involved. A police officer will generate a report which the insurance company will require if you intend to make a claim to have the damages to your vehicle repaired. It is also important to have the police arrive because just like false claims of injury, some people may make the claim that you left the scene of the accident which is a criminal offense.
Another important thing to remember is to move the vehicles from the road, if at all possible, including large pieces of debris. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have seen other close calls because someone from a recent accident left a bumper or other large piece of their car laying in the road. I am not advocating risking life or limb by cleaning up all of the fallout from an accident, but as you are preparing to move your vehicle out of the way, you may want to throw the significant parts of it in the backseat instead of leaving them there to create an obstacle course for other unsuspecting drivers and possibly causing injury to someone else. Of course, when you move your car out of the road way, you don’t want to move too far away and be accused of leaving the scene.
Don’t say to the cop that the other driver was at fault and certainly never admit to being at fault yourself. The cop can and will write you a traffic ticket for any wrongdoing that you may admit to so you want to avoid implicating yourself, even to a small degree. Simply and clearly state to the officer exactly what occurred in a matter-of-fact tone that does not implicate any complicity on your part. Admitting any level of fault can result in a traffic ticket and the other driver may use it against you later if he or she decides to sue you. Trying to place blame on the other driver only results in the driver being angry and the police officer will question your motive in doing so. It is important also to not to forget to exchange your information with the other driver. Make sure that you share your insurance information so that both insurance companies can determine fault and get any claims underway. Although it is advised that you exchange personal information such as phone numbers and addresses, this is information that will be found on the police report.
Once you leave the accident scene, make sure to call your insurance company as soon as you can to let them know about the accident. Generally, insurance companies start processing claims quickly so the sooner you let your insurance agent know that you have been in an accident, the more expeditiously they can resolve your claim. Keep in mind also that failing to inform your insurance company in a timely fashion could result in them refusing to reimburse you for any financial or medical issues that could arise from the accident. One more thing to keep in mind about reporting to the insurance company: don’t make any statements to the opposing insurance company until you have talked to your own and they have told you that it is okay to do so.
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