Friday, May 31, 2013

What To Do After a Car Crash

What to do if you're in a car accident

Useful list of what to do after a car accident. Simple stuff, but it's good to have this list.
The collision has ended, the damage is done. Your blood pressure has skyrocketed and nerves are frayed. But you’re OK. Inhale deeply; bring yourself to a state of serenity and follow these critical steps when a car crash happens. There is a proper protocol to follow that drivers may not be aware of or are unclear on (especially teenagers).

Alex was excited to finally get his license. He was looking forward to going to the movies and to visit friends without needing someone to take him.
A couple weeks later, Alex was headed to his friend Matt's house. Two blocks from Matt's, Alex waited at a stop sign when he felt a sudden jolt. Someone had rear-ended his car. Alex started panicking — and his first thought was "What do I do now?"

Car Crashes

Driving is probably the most dangerous thing most of us will ever do. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 30,000 deaths and over 2 million injuries from motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. every year.
Although you do your best to drive responsibly and defensively, it's still smart to know what to do just in case you end up in a collision. Crashes can be very scary, but here are some tips if one happens to you:

Is Everyone OK?

Check your body and other passengers for injuries if able to do so. Receiving medical care within the first hour is crucial. It’s recommended to call for help even if you don’t believe anyone has sustained serious bodily harm. By contacting authorities, the police can officially document the circumstances of the collision. This collected information may aid you in the future when trying to prove your case if lawsuits are filed.
Move Your Vehicle
Once your vehicle is at rest, immediately move it (if you can) off the road. With impatient drivers likely to either speed around the crashed cars or express their displeasure at your disruptive car accident blockade, remove your car from the flow of traffic so that you don’t multiply the risk of creating a destructive chain reaction.

Contact Insurance

There exist clauses which void the insurance claim if you do not report your car accident within a certain time frame. Report a car accident in a timely manner to avoid any issues — the day of the crash is best. Insurance companies will assist you through the process and inform you on how to proceed. Even with minimal damage to your vehicle, file a claim — seemingly minor repairs can often exceed the cost of your deductible.

Exchange Information

Write down all relevant information. Start with names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and license plate numbers of all involved parties — even witnesses. Ask if the address is current. Don’t take anyone’s word that the information they’re giving you is true. Ask to see the proper documents — driver’s license, car registration and insurance information. It’s vital to record this information so that you can pass it along to your insurance provider.
Take some deep breaths to get calm
After a crash, a person may feel a wide range of emotions — shock, guilt, fear, nervousness, or anger — all of which are normal. But take a few deep breaths or count to 10 to calm down. The calmer you are, the better prepared you will be to handle the situation. This is the time to take stock of the accident and try to make a judgment about whether it was a serious one.

Keep yourself and others safe
If you can't get out of your car — or it's not safe to try — keep your seatbelt fastened, turn on your hazard lights, then call 911 if possible and wait for help to arrive. If the collision seems to be minor, turn off your car and grab your emergency kit. If it's safe to get out and move around your car, set up orange cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares around the crash site.
If there are no injuries and your vehicle is driveable, make a reasonable effort to move the vehicle to a safe spot that is not blocking traffic (like the shoulder of a highway or a parking lot). In some states it's illegal to move your car from the scene of a crash, though. Ask your driver's ed instructor what the law is in your state.

Take Pictures

With today’s technology, you’re likely to have camera capability on your cell phone. Snap photos of the damage, or lack thereof, on all vehicles involved. Take pictures from various angles and distances. Capture license plates and perhaps the people related to the collision. Pictures are more reliable than words — images are concrete proof of the actual happenings at the scene of the crash. You’ll never know when these pictures will help you escape a legal jam, so take as many photos as possible.

Other Tips

  • This may be obvious, but never flee the scene. Nothing implies guilt like a dubious absence. And the police may charge you with hit and run penalties.
  • Ask the police to fill out an accident report.
  • Never admit fault. There may have been other factors involved which caused the collision.
  • Draw a diagram of the car accident as you experienced it while it is fresh in your mind. Write down the street where the crash occurred and note any cross streets or landmarks.
  • Discover more vital tips in the cars guide section on the website of Jean Jennings’s, a television personality and President of Automobile magazine.

Knowing the proper steps to take when an accident happens can help you stay calm after a crash. It’s crucial to know what to do so you aren’t left with an expensive insurance bill or legal damages for something that wasn’t your fault. As long as you stay informed and aware, you can drive safely and be prepared.

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