You’re driving down the road, listening to your favorite song when out of nowhere another car swerves in front of you. You slam on the brakes but despite your best efforts, your car crashes into theirs, causing a horrible collision. Your vehicle screeches to a stop, and now you’re left gripping onto your steering wheel feeling panicked.
Now, what do you do?
Unfortunately, many citizens encounter this situation every day.
It can be scary and confusing if you’ve never been in a car accident. You may have many questions. How do you file an insurance claim? What if you have suffered serious injuries?
If you want to prevent the fear and uncertainty, continue reading. Here’s what you should do after getting into a car accident.
Safety Precautions After the Accident
First things first, before even thinking about filing your insurance claim, make sure to check your surroundings. If you crashed into another car in the middle of the road, you may still be in grave danger. Check your surroundings and drive off to the side of the road if necessary.
If your car is smoking, or totaled, exit the vehicle immediately. Don’t try to take all of your things either. Your possessions can wait. Your safety and wellbeing, on the other hand, can’t. Just grab your cell phone, check for traffic, and make your way to a clear area. Then, make sure you and the other driver haven’t suffered any injuries.
Next, call the police or an ambulance if you need to get to an urgent care clinic immediately. The police will take down information that is crucial to your insurance claim.
When to Call an Ambulance
Calling an ambulance is not something that should be taken lightly. Learn how to differentiate the difference between minor injuries and serious trauma that requires medical care.
Look for the following signs. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, do not hesitate to call the paramedics.
- If you’re having trouble breathing
- If you’ve hit your head on the steering wheel
- If your vision is going in and out of focus
- If you’re bleeding non-stop
- If you feel nauseous
- If one of your passengers is unresponsive
- If the other driver is unconscious or unresponsive
What if Your Car is Totaled?
Some crashes may cause the driver to leave with nothing but a scratch on their car. Others are not so lucky. Totaling your car is the worst-case scenario. So what do you do if you can’t drive your car away from the accident? Call a towing service to come pick it up.
Make sure you’re standing far from the flow of traffic, call a tow truck business and be prepared to give your name, location, and your car’s make and model. They should arrive promptly, so do not leave the scene.
Sprucing Up Your Car After an Accident
If you were lucky enough to leave the scene of the accident with nothing more than a broken window or dent, here’s what you need to know about restoring your car back to its former glory.
Take your car to an auto body shop you can trust. There are several out there, but not all shops are created equally. You shouldn’t have to carry the stress of the accident, along with the tension of working with an unprofessional team.
- Ask around and get intel from friends and family members who have been in accidents. This is the best way to find a reliable shop on such short notice.
- If you come up empty, look online, and carefully comb through the reviews left behind by past clients. If there were any unhappy customers, what was the shop’s response like? Make a list of the top contending shops and get ready to make some phone calls.
- Look into the shop’s specialty. Do they only work on cars that have been in major and minor accidents? If so, you’re likely to see even better results when it comes to dent removal and windshield repair.
- Work with a certified shop. Some auto body shops are accredited through organizations like the Auto Body Alliance.
- Now’s not the time to cut corners, but make sure that their rates are feasible — especially if your vehicle has suffered a lot of damage.
Filing an Your Claim
If you’re unsure of how to file an insurance claim after your accident, follow these next few steps.
Start by Filing an Accident Report With the Police
You may also have to file a report with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Every state has its own process for filing an insurance claim, so if you’re unsure what to do after your accident, call your state insurance commissioner’s office.
Make Sure You Have all the Details About Your Accident
As soon as you’re safe and far away from the scene of your accident, make sure to write down all the details for your insurance claim. Take pictures as well. Then, keep all of this information in a folder. It will come in handy whenever you call your insurance claim specialist.
Set Some Time Aside to Call Your Insurance Specialist
Call your insurance claim specialist a few days after the accident. However, if your car is undergoing repairs, you may have to call even sooner. Your company can set you up with a rental to drive in the meantime depending on what your policy entails.
Your company may also assign an insurance agent to your case. Send them all of the necessary information regarding your accident such as photos, voice memos, or the police report. Make sure to answer their phone calls right away. These are time-sensitive matters, and you want to make sure your insurance claim goes smoothly.
Healing from the Accident
Of course, you can take your car to an auto repair service for a quick fix. But if you’re the one who’s been hurt? What steps must you take?
If you have been seriously injured, you’ll have to undergo a long healing process. An accident can take an emotional toll on you both mentally and physically. So, don’t rush the healing process.
If you find that your lower back and neck feel stiff from the accident, visit your local chiropractor for an alignment. Undergoing physical therapy is another viable option to ease your pain. A physical therapist can help you rebuild your strength.
Going to physical therapy after your accident can also help you improve your balance and build up your core stability. You may be able to avoid certain surgical procedures with the right physical therapist in your corner.
Undergoing Emotional Healing
Some people may leave an accident with more than just bumps and bruises. They may end up with emotional scars too. If you find yourself experiencing the following signs, book a consultation with a therapist.
- You constantly feel stressed after the accident
- You find being in a car triggering, even if you’re not driving
- You feel an overwhelming sense of guilt
- You’re experiencing nightmares non-stop
- You’re having trouble sleeping
This single incident trauma may make it difficult to get back in a car for a few weeks or months, however, an experienced psychiatrist can prescribe treatment. You should also talk to a friend about the accident, as sometimes talking things through with someone close to you can give you more clarity on a situation.
Car collisions have been linked to post-traumatic stress syndrome. Know that you are not alone and that things will get better with time.
Fighting for Your Rights
If all of this physical and mental healing is taking a toll on you, consider working with a personal injury lawyer. Oftentimes, accidents can happen to completely responsible drivers.
If you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, you may find yourself in an accident thanks to a drunk driver, or someone who happens to be texting and driving. You shouldn’t have to suffer for their mistakes, and hiring an accident lawyer well versed in this branch of the law will allow you to be compensated.
Your attorney may also represent you at a trial if the accident happens to go to court, which can also ease the burden if you’ve never gone through the process.
Avoiding Potential Accidents
A car collision can happen to anyone — even the most careful driver. However, there are certain precautions you can take to decrease your chances of causing a collision.
When driving, make sure to avoid these distractions and implement these defensive driving practices:
- If you have kids, make sure they are properly strapped into their carseats. This protects them, but it also keeps them seated to eliminate the possibility of them distracting you.
- The same goes for pet owners! Make sure that your four-legged friend is buckled down. If they jump onto your lap, they may cause you to swerve into oncoming traffic.
- Put your phone on airplane mode when driving. This silences all notifications on your phone so you’re not tempted to pick it up every time you hear your text tone go off.
- Do not speed, even when going down the freeway. Though it can be tempting to go above the speed limit when you’re in a hurry, sticking to the posted speed limit can help prevent a fatal collision.
- Wear your seatbelt! This has likely been drilled into your brain since your first driving lesson, but never forget to put your safety first. If you do get into an accident, your seatbelt can make the difference between life and death.
- Always keep a five second following distance between you and the car in front of you. Many accidents can happen when a driver is tailgating another car, so ease your foot off the accelerator if you notice you’re inching too close.
- Try to never travel at night. Driving while you’re exhausted is just as bad as driving under the influence. If you have a long drive ahead of you, make sure you’re well rested. If you find yourself dozing off at the wheel, pull over immediately and rest your eyes for a few minutes. Better yet, check into a hotel and start your drive back up the next morning.
If you need a refresher on staying safe on the road, take a defensive driving class. This may also lower your insurance rate.
Some Final Words on Protecting Yourself From Car Collisions
In conclusion, car accidents are quite common. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that they are also scary experiences for anyone to encounter.
While you can never predict when a car collision will happen, you can inform yourself about the proper steps to take following the crash. This ensures that you’re prepared for anything when trying to file your insurance claim. However, recovery is also an important process following the crash. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to act fast and efficiently.