Open Road

Do you know what to do after a car accident?

Some drivers are lucky enough to have never been involved a car accident while others have been in several fender benders. According to the car insurance industry, the average driver will file a claim for some type of auto collision about once every 18 years. While a majority of car accidents are preventable, most of them occur without warning and making it nearly impossible to stay out of harm's way.

Although it's common for drivers, who were involved in an accident, to get out of their cars to check for any body damage (such as a scratch or dent), do you really know what to do after a car accident? Here are some tips to remember, just in case you have the misfortune of being rear ended or end up in a multiple car accident on a busy freeway:

Know Your State's Laws

If you live in a no-fault state, the steps you must take after a car accident, even small accidents, may be different than other states. Familiarize yourself with your state's policies and ask your insurance company when you sign up for an insurance policy. Speaking of fault, avoid admitting to fault even if you were indeed responsible for the accident. It's best to leave that to be determined by the insurance company and authorities.

Get Out of Harm's Way

There is never a convenient place to be involved in a car accident. If you are physically able and your car is operational, try to move your car over to a shoulder or the side of the road. Don't forget to turn on your hazards. If and when you get out of your vehicle, be aware of passing motorists and try to stay out of the flow of traffic as much as possible.

Call 9-1-1

After you have quickly assessed the situation to see if anyone is injured, call 9-1-1 regardless of injury or not. If there are no injuries and limited to no damage to vehicles, authorities may deem it unnecessary to show up at the scene. You will be prompted how to proceed. A good rule of thumb, if you're unsure what to do, call authorities.

Document the Crash

Whether you need to collect information to give to your insurance company or when meeting with an accident lawyer, documentation is crucial. Thankfully, these days it's even easier with smartphones. Take pictures of the scene, any damage to yourself and the vehicles. It may also be a good idea to film a video of you explaining the sequence of events while scanning across the scene of the accident. Get contact information for any witnesses and don't forget to exchange information with others who were involved in the accident. Documentation is best done as soon as possible. Time can affect one's account of what happened and details have a tendency to become less accurate.

Decide Whether or Not to File a Claim

Choosing to file a claim has a lot to do with the type of crash that occurred, the amount of damage done, and one's insurance coverage. If you are unable to file a claim with either you or the other motorist's insurance company, it may be a wise idea to see if you can seek compensation from your accident by consulting an attorney who specializes in car accidents.

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