Every day, millions of Americans get in their cars and drive. They drive to work, to the store, or to see family. Luckily, the majority of those drives are uneventful. People get where they are going without incident more times than not. Driving is a safe practice and most people go their entire lives without ever getting into an accident. Still, accidents do occasionally happen. At best, there is not damage and, at worst, there are catastrophic injuries and death. What should you do after a car accident? It depends on the crash’s severity and if there are any injuries or not. For our purposes, let’s pretend there are no injuries.
Get off the road
The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath, try to calm down, and get your car off the road. If your vehicle is still operable, then you must get it—and yourself—to safety. Staying on the road leaves you in danger of being hit by another car. Get over on the shoulder or pull into a nearby parking lot, as long as you are out of traffic.
Get out and survey the damage
Once you are clear of danger, get out and see how bad the damage really is. Look at the point of impact first then look around the entire car to check for collateral damage. Then, look at the other car as well. Don’t take any chances about what they might report to their insurance company or the police. Look for yourself so that you can answer any questions down the line.
Take photos of both vehicles
Document the accident in as much detail as you can. Take photos of your car, their car, the road, any debris left, and anything else you think might be important later. If there are any witnesses who stop to help, get their version of events as well. There is no detail too small in a traffic accident, especially if it goes to court.
Stay calm and talk to the other driver. Get all the pertinent information from them. Don’t discuss who’s at fault at this time if you can avoid it. Make sure to get their personal information, name, address, and phone number. Also, get their insurance information, license plate number, and make and model of the car.
Make phone calls
After a car accident, you have to make some phone calls. If you haven’t already called 9-1-1, then you might want to call the police. It varies state to state on if you must call them. If there is a death, injury, or damage over a certain dollar amount, you must call them. Finally, call your insurance company and file a claim.
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