It can all happen in an instant, but a car accident can affect your life for years to come. If you or a loved one has ever been in a car accident, you know how terrifying the immediate aftermath can be.
And while you try to do everything you can to keep you and your loved ones safe, it's also important to know what you would do in case of a car accident. Here are four things to keep in mind and to talk about with your family members, especially any teenage drivers.
Know where your paperwork is
Nobody prepares to be in an accident, but there's a reason you have auto insurance. Make sure you have your insurance cards in the glove compartment or another place where they're easy to find. Same goes for your license and registration. If you share your car with family members, make sure everyone knows where to find these documents. Even if you're not at fault in a car accident, you'll want to have everything on hand.
Know what to collect
Provided you're able to do so, you'll want to gather some information from the other driver and the scene of the accident. Your cell phone camera can be handy for photographing everything from damage to the other driver's insurance card. Here's what to try to collect:
- The other driver's contact information, license plate number and insurance information
- Photographs of damage and the scene of the accident
- Contact information from any witnesses, if appropriate
Know when to call the police
After an accident, the other driver might try to convince you that you can handle everything between the two of you, especially if it seems like just a small fender-bender. But you also may want to call the police. An official report can help with an insurance claim or other settlement later on. Law enforcement can also help make sure you're safe, and if you think you or the other driver may have been hurt, they can make sure you get the medical attention you need.
Know when to talk to a doctor and a lawyer
If you've been hurt, even if you think it's minor, it's a good idea to get medical attention right away. Your doctor's evaluation could very important if you end of seeking damages for medical expenses. Keep in mind that some common injuries, like whiplash, might not show up right away.
After any major accident, it's also a good idea to consult with an attorney before accepting an insurance settlement. Your insurance company is not necessarily going to fight to get you the largest settlement, so it's a good idea to have an attorney in your corner, especially when you're dealing with a serious injury, to help guide you through the case - and make sure you are fairly compensated.