Every parent should discuss how to deal with a car accident before they hand their children the keys. It isn’t enough to know the legal minimum taught in driver’s education courses. Knowing how to respond to auto accidents is essential if you want to minimize your liability and ensure you are properly compensated while complying with the law.
A car accident is not the end of the world unless someone is literally killed or left with life-threatening injuries. Recognize that car accidents are a risk we all take when driving. Don’t think it is the end of the world or even going to get you arrested, unless you’re guilty of drunk driving or a similar offense.
Calm down. Then assess the situation. Do you need to call for an ambulance due to someone’s injuries? Do you need to render aid, such as pulling someone from a burning vehicle? If not, move your cars out of the way of oncoming traffic if that’s actually a problem. Otherwise, leave them so the accident scene is undisturbed.
When dealing with a car accident, getting documentation is essential. This is not limited to collecting each other’s insurance information. You need as many photos as possible of the accident. What were the road conditions like? Take pictures of the road and signage. Who was involved? Take pictures of the car, the driver, passengers and witnesses. This may prove the presence of witnesses or third parties who contributed to the accident. It may also prove the identities of those involved, such as when an adult child is driving the parent’s car with their ID.
Call the police and ask for a police report to be made regarding the accident. We’d recommend doing this after getting photos of the other car and their insurance information, since some people will try to avoid the police. That’s especially true if they’re driving with expired registration, lack insurance, have outstanding warrants or are illegal aliens. Get the police officer’s name, badge number and telephone number. This can help you get the police report if they can’t give you a report number at that time.
Take Care of What Matters
See a doctor for a medical evaluation before you take your car to the shop. Write down your recollections of the accident as soon as possible, if you don’t need immediate medical attention. Do this before you call the insurance company, though it may need to wait until after you notify your family as to why you’ll be late getting home. Wait until the case is settled before you talk about it on social media.
Don’t start repairing the vehicle until you’ve consulted with your insurance carrier. For example, don’t try to touch up the car to hide the damage until you’ve had it assessed by a mechanic and the insurance company has approved the repairs. After all, you might be able to get the other side to pay for both repairs and a new paint job.
Consult with an attorney to get legal advice before you “try to make things right” with the other side. Get a full accounting of the repair bill and medical bills before you file a claim with your or their insurance company. Don’t settle until you know the full cost of the accident and its aftermath.