Most people are familiar with the basic protocols they should follow if they’re involved in a car accident. However, when the time actually comes to put these practices into action, it can be all too easy to forget critical steps in the heat of the moment.
Fender benders are more than just a nuisance, they are also a financial transaction. If you find yourself in an auto accident, it’s essential you don’t skip the following steps to ensure you receive what you’re entitled to.
Step 1: Get to safety and call 911
If possible, your first priority should be getting your vehicle out of traffic and calling emergency services – especially if there is substantial damage or someone is injured. Even if it was only a minor fender bender, it’s beneficial to have an official report of the incident.
Law enforcement will take statements from both parties and any witnesses to create a police report. This report can help make the claims process smoother with your insurer and protect you against false claims from the other driver.
Step 2: Trade information
The next important step is exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver. Even if the authorities aren’t called, your insurer will need the driver’s insurance information to process the claim and determine who pays for damages. If there are any witnesses at the scene, be sure to collect their contact information as well.
Step 3: Gather evidence
After a crash, you’ll want to take photos of the scene to help support your insurance claims, especially if you were not at fault. Use your phone to take pictures of your car, the other cars, license plates and the location of the accident. Documenting this evidence as soon as possible will ensure you don’t forget important details of the event.
Step 4: Stick to small talk
A car accident can cause a great deal of tension between two strangers, which may tempt you to apologize to the other driver. However, experts recommend never admitting guilt after a collision. Even if you agree about who is at fault at the scene, the other driver may easily change their story to their insurer later on.
Keep your communication with other party limited to small talk, trading relevant information and ensuring they are okay. Leave it to your insurance companies to determine who is at fault.
Even the shock of minor collisions can cause you to forget crucial steps at the scene of an accident. Do your best to keep a level head and get the information you need while you can. Without it, you could end up paying the price for your damages and injuries.