The Guide to Handling Your First Car Accident
You’ve just gotten into your first car accident. It might have been a small fender bender, or it might have been something more serious. No matter how severe it was, a car accident can be an extremely scary experience for drivers young and old.
Because dealing with the results of a car accident often involve calling law enforcement and collecting information for legal purposes, the process can be intimidating. Combine that with the shock of getting into your first car accident, and young, inexperienced drivers might find themselves freezing up. That’s why it’s so important to be educated and prepared.
If you find yourself in a car accident, take the following steps to stay safe and to ensure you have everything you need after the fact:
- Get to a safe location. If you’re on a busy road or freeway, pull your car over to the road’s shoulder. Turn on your hazard lights and turn off the engine. If your car is damaged to the point that you cannot move it, make sure your surroundings are safe before getting out of the car.
- Check for injuries. Before checking on the people in the other vehicle, assess yourself and others in your car. If it’s a minor car accident, you most likely won’t be seriously injured, but check for whiplash or concussions.
- Contact law enforcement. As soon as you’re able to, contact the police. This is very important for your insurance company, who will need police report information in order to determine fault. Law enforcement will also take down any witness statements and will help you file a police report.
- Exchange information. No matter how minor the car accident, you should always exchange information with the other driver. This includes full names and contact information; driver’s license and license plate numbers; insurance company and policy numbers; and the make, model, and color of their car.
- Gather evidence. You should always gather as much information as you can, which can be extremely helpful when your insurance company takes a look at your claim, or if you decide to take legal action. With your smartphone, take photos of the surrounding area, including any traffic signals. You should also take photos of any damage sustained to your car or the other driver’s car.
- Contact your insurance company. After you’ve left the scene of the accident and filed any necessary police reports, contact your insurance company to let them know about the accident. The insurance agent will ask you any questions they have, and will use your answers to determine how to go forward with your claim.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. If you or another passenger were injured in the car accident, you could benefit from legal advice. A personal injury lawyer experienced in car accident claims can help you understand what your legal options are, and how to take next steps.
Besides staying safe and gathering important information, it’s also important to handle the situation correctly. Don’t admit fault in the accident, even if you’re pretty sure it was your fault. This could be used in any insurance or legal claims. Also, when talking to police officers, make sure to be honest in explaining what happened. Don’t exaggerate the situation, but be thorough in your details.
After experiencing their first car accident, many drivers have a difficult time adjusting back to the road. Simple trips like driving to the grocery store can seem extremely intimidating. Being scared to drive is understandable, but it shouldn’t hold you back from handling your responsibilities. Instead of being terrified to get back on the road, it’s possible to appreciate your new perspective.
Because you know what it’s like to be in a car accident, you might become an extra cautious driver. You might catch yourself looking over your shoulder longer before backing out of a parking space. You might wait a few extra seconds before merging lanes. You might even find yourself strictly sticking to the posted speed limit. These things aren’t bad—they’re part of becoming a better driver. Yes, it’s scary now, but soon you’ll find yourself driving more safely, preventing future car accidents.
If you’re feeling uncertain after experiencing your first car accident, you don’t need to be. Our trusted accident attorneys have years of experience helping their clients deal with car accidents. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact us today to receive the compensation you deserve.
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