No matter where you’re headed, a car accident is always going to be an unexpected inconvenience—and hopefully not something even worse. After you’ve been in an accident, adrenaline and panic can make it difficult to remain calm and remember everything you need to do.
At Kennedy Transmission in Apple Valley, MN, we want you—and any other driver involved—to stay safe after you’ve been in a car accident, which is why we’ve put together this guide on what to do in the aftermath of a wreck.
How to Handle a Car Wreck: A Step-by-Step Checklist
From minor fender-benders to multiple-car pileups on the highway, here’s what you need to do following a crash or collision.
Step 1: Stop.
Stopping your vehicle after getting into a car accident is the most obvious thing to do. But unfortunately, hit-and-runs still happen all the time. Stop your vehicle as soon as it is safely possible to do so, even if you don’t think there’s any notable damage.
Step 2: Get to a Safe Place.
After you stop, try not to move the vehicles unless they are blocking or endangering other traffic. Turn your hazard lights on, and if no one is badly injured, get out of the car and stand as far away from moving traffic as possible. Staying inside your vehicle can be dangerous due to the possibility of being hit by oncoming cars. However, if there are injured people inside the vehicle, remove the car from the road if possible, or use a drivable car to shield it from oncoming traffic.
Step 3: Determine Injuries and Extent of Damage.
As soon as you’re out of harm’s way, assess the extent of your injuries as well as those of anyone else involved in the accident. For urgent medical needs or concerns, call 911. Either way, unless you are 100 percent sure you are not injured, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident to receive any necessary treatment. Some pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents don’t exhibit immediate symptoms.
In addition to determining injuries of drivers and passengers, determine the extent of damage to the cars involved. Take photos of your vehicle that show any damage caused by the wreck.
Step 4: Contact the Police.
If you call a 911 dispatcher, they will send out the necessary emergency vehicles to the scene. Either way, though, you will need to file an accident report with the local police—but if there are no injuries, the damage is minor, and/or the police are unable to make it to the scene, you can report the accident at the nearest police station.
When speaking to an officer, it is OK to say “I don’t know” if you are uncertain about details of the event (even your own injuries). This is better than speculating and possibly mistaking the facts.
Step 5: Don’t Admit Fault and Limit Conversation.
Whether to another driver, the police, or your insurance company, never admit fault for the accident, and limit conversation about the incident until all parties involved can speak to law enforcement. The law does not require that you admit fault in an accident, and your insurance provider warns against it—as accepting liability may require them to pay for the other party’s damages and cause your premium rates to go up.
Step 6: Record the Facts and Exchange Contact Information.
Although you might be shaken after an accident, don’t let yourself leave the scene without gathering some pieces of crucial information about the incident and those involved.
The information you should record about the accident includes:
- Date and time of the accident
- Address, approximate address, or the road and nearest cross street
- The direction in which you and other drivers were traveling
- Photos of the aftermath from a few different angles
- Any notes and details you can remember about the incident and driving conditions
The information you should exchange and record about other parties involved includes:
- Full name of the driver
- Address, phone number, and other contact information
- Their insurance company name and policy number
- Vehicle identification number (VIN), description, make, model and year
- License plate number
- Any witness names and contact information
- Name, badge number, case number, and other relevant information from the police officer dispatched to the accident
Step 7: Seek Legal Advice If Necessary.
Depending on the severity of your accident and the damage and injuries sustained, you may consider consulting an attorney. They can assist you in gathering evidence, making statements, seeking compensation, and medical treatment.
Step 8: Contact Your Insurance Provider to File a Claim.
There are a couple of scenarios in which you may not need to file a car insurance claim. For instance, if you were involved in a single-vehicle crash and emerged unharmed, that would be considered an at-fault claim and could cost you a great deal on future premiums. Also, when damage to another driver’s vehicle is minimal, they may agree to let you pay them out-of-pocket.
Otherwise, file a claim if there are injuries, notable damage to vehicles or the fault is unclear. Talking to your insurance agent after an accident can be tricky, which is why you should do so with a level head. Again, do not admit fault, but do not lie—stick firmly to the facts as best as possible. Your goal is to fight for the protection and compensation you’ve paid your insurance company for.
Stay Safe by Keeping Your Car in Tip-Top Shape
At Kennedy Transmission in Apple Valley, MN, we know how important it is to be prepared for the worst on the road and how to properly handle a car wreck.
We also believe that your vehicle deserves regular maintenance you can trust. After all, that’s the most proactive way to prevent any mishaps or accidents. Schedule an appointment for one of our automotive services today, and contact us with questions or concerns!