What To Do If You’re In a Car Accident
By: Good2GoPublished: July 21, 2014
It’s every driver’s worst nightmare. The violent clash of metal, screeching tires, honking horns and sirens coming from every direction. You’ve just been involved in a car accident. So now what? Before you start placing blame or calling your best friend’s brother’s cousin who’s a lawyer, here’s what you should do if you’re involved in a car accident.
Car crash statistics
To give you some context into how serious car crashes are, let’s review some important traffic accident statistics.
In 2012, there were 30,800 fatal vehicle crashes, 33,561 fatalities and an estimated 2,362,000 injuries, according to the NHTSA. In addition to injuries and fatalities, car accidents cost a lot of money. In 2010, road accidents cost the U.S. $871 billion: $277 billion in economic costs and $594 billion in harm from loss of life, pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries.
The average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,073 and the average claim for bodily injury was $14,653, as reported by RMIIA.
Common causes of car accidents
The most common causes for car accidents in the U.S. for 2012 were:
- Alcohol-related: 10,322 fatalities were caused by drunk drivers (NHTSA)
- Speeding: 10,219 fatalities were the result of drivers who exceeded the speed limit (NHTSA)
- Distracted driving: 3,328 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver (IIHS). Good2Go is helping reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road by offering a Cell Phone Safety Discount to those who install a text blocking device in their car. Find out if you are eligible for this 5% discount.
- Fatigue: an estimated 1,550 deaths per year are caused by drowsy driving (NHTSA)
- Red light running: 683 fatalities were due to drivers running red lights (IIHS)
What to do after a car accident
Whether you’re involved in a car accident with a drunk driver or a texting teen, here’s what you should do if you haven’t sustained any fatal or life-threatening injuries:
Stay calm: This is crucial at the scene of the accident as this will help you maintain control of the situation and prevent you from making irrational decisions. Being hysterical, panicked or belligerent will make it difficult for law enforcement and emergency medical services to help you.
Remain at the scene: Find a safe place where you can gather your thoughts, check yourself for injuries and exchange information with any other parties involved in the incident. Leaving the scene of a car crash that involves another driver or a pedestrian is considered a “hit-and-run” and is against the law, so stay put!
Check on your passengers and drivers: This tip relates back to remaining at the scene. If you were driving with passengers or if the accident involved another driver, offer assistance to those who may be injured. You should also warn oncoming traffic by turning on your hazard warning lights, using warning triangles, orange cones or flares to signal that an accident has occurred and you need help.
Call 911: If you’re in a serious crash, police should be called to the scene. This is critical if injuries are sustained. Even if you are involved in a minor accident, drivers should still file a vehicle accident report which often helps insurance companies speed up the claims process.
Contact your insurance company/agent: You should not wait until the next day to contact your insurance company. The sooner you report the claim, the sooner they can start resolving it. If you have more questions about how to report a claim with Good2Go, click here.
Do not admit fault: Even if the accident was completely your fault, it is highly advised that you do not admit fault or guilt. The other driver may force fault onto you, but stand your ground. That doesn’t mean falsify information or tell blatant lies as that may come back to haunt you if you are sued. The process of determining fault should be left to the experts. When giving your statement to the police, simply state the facts as they happened to the best of your knowledge. After that, let the police and the auto insurance adjusters review them and figure out where the true fault lies.
Exchange information with any other drivers involved: If you haven’t left the scene (which you shouldn’t have done in the first place), be sure to write down the name, address, phone number and license numbers for all drivers and witnesses to the incident. You can also ask for the insurance companies and policy numbers of the drivers involved. If emergency services and law enforcement officials are called to the scene, record the police department, officer name, badge number, police report number, phone number, and ambulance company. All of this information will be helpful when filing a claim, police report and in the event that you need to go to court.
Take photos: This too is important to have in your records if you need to defend yourself. Take pictures of any damage to all vehicles and property, including the scene of the accident such as skid marks, road conditions, and the position of vehicles. When exchanging or collecting information from people at the scene, take clear pictures of identification documents such as insurance cards, badges, license plates, etc. In short, if you think it’s important, take a picture of it.
Remember to follow up: You may think a car accident is over after you leave the scene; however, a lot of the heavy work comes afterwards. If certain processes are taking too long, follow up on anything that needs to be taken care of. This can include preparing for legal action, seeking medical advice, keeping in contact with your repair shop, and figuring out what your car insurance will or won’t cover.
No one looks forward to their first car accident. But with these tips, you’ll be well prepared to face the incident like a pro.
Good2Go wants you to drive safe – and affordably. Find out how you can protect yourself with Good2Go.com auto insurance. Get a cheap car insurance quote today.