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Even though you may like to think it would never happen to you, accidents can happen to anyone. And whether it’s your fault or not, car accidents can cause a variety of problems, from injuries and damage to insurance hassles and financial hardships. Knowing what to do and what not to do in the event of a car accident can save you time, money, and stress. 

Car accidents: do’s and don’ts

Car accidents can happen anywhere, at any time. They can be mild in nature or severe. Car accidents can turn your world upside down in a variety of ways. If you ever get into an accident with your vehicle, it’s essential you know what to do, to keep yourself safe and protected.

Why it’s important to be prepared: the trauma of car accidents

When you get in a car accident, your vehicle may obviously be damaged. But accidents can cause a variety of other consequences and effects. Some things you may have to deal with when you get into a car accident include mental and physical health problems, medical bills, lawsuits, limitations at work, issues with automobile insurance companies, financial hardship, and more.

In fact, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), who studies the economic and societal costs of vehicle accidents throughout the country, estimated that the total “cost” of vehicle accidents was roughly $836 billion in the year 2010 alone. This cost accounts for “both economic impacts and valuation for lost quality-of-life,” with 29% from economic impact and 71% from lost quality-of-life.

Because you never know what may come from a car accident, preparation and education are key.

Mistakes to avoid

While it is important to take certain steps after being in an accident, it is also important to avoid making certain mistakes. Even though it can be hard to keep your cool, it’s important to think clearly and remember what not to do.

  • Don’t leave the scene. Even if the accident seems mild, you are responsible and expected to stop, exchange information, and report the accident. According to How Stuff Works, if you leave the scene without taking the proper steps, you may be committing a crime.
  • Don’t lose your cool. It’s easy to have a rush of emotions running through you after a car accident, but becoming angry or irrational may force you into something you regret later.
  • Don’t forget the proper documentation. This could refer to a variety of things, but should always include getting insurance information from all parties involved, providing your insurance information, retrieving information like license plate numbers, names of parties involved, and makes/models of the vehicles involved. You should also document the accident’s location, the situation of the accident, and get a police report if necessary. For added security, take pictures of everything.
  • Don’t ignore all the steps you need to take. Car accidents can be a lot of work. But completing the things you need to when you need to, is essential. Take care of injuries or medical problems, insurance claims, paperwork, etc. right away. Putting these tasks off will only exacerbate your current problems.

What to do

When you’ve been in an accident, the first thing you should do is check the welfare of yourself and others inside your vehicle. If everyone is ok and you are able, move your vehicle to a safe area. Once in a safe location, turn your vehicle off and check on other parties involved in the accident.

Seek emergency medical attention for anyone who needs it first, when necessary. It is then important to call the police to the scene as soon as possible.

According to Allstate, police reports are important even in the case of minor accidents. The police can also mediate the situation for all parties involved, and prove who is at fault for the accident.

After you’ve gathered the proper documentation from the accident, you’ll want to file a claim with your automobile insurance right away. Many insurance providers have their own time limits for making such claims. And when in doubt, seek the help of a professional for advice.


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