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What do you do if you are involved in an accident?

Published January 12, 2018

Itís a scenario none of us ever wish to find ourselves in, yet at some stage during our lives it is inevitable to be involved in a fender bender or two, and hopefully it will not be serious. Below is a simple checklist to help get you through a stressful situation.
1. Safety First. That might mean, if you can, moving your car to the shoulder or somewhere off the road, switching off the engine, engaging the emergency brake and turning on your hazard lights. If you can exit the vehicle safely, do so. If you have a warning triangle or traffic cones, now is the perfect time to use them.

2. Injury check. Are you injured? If you are OK and can move, check on your passengers, and anyone else involved in the accident (occupants in the other car, pedestrians or cyclists). If you or anyone is injured, or in shock, call 911 for an ambulance immediately.

3. Call the Police. In some states you are legally required to call the police, even if the accident is minor. A police accident report is also going to be of great assistance in any insurance or legal claims. Obtain a copy for your own records.

4. Record details. This includes obtaining the registration, personal, and insurance details from the other driver/s involved, any witnesses who saw the accident, and also jotting down a recap of what happened in the accident. Photos help a lot as well, and almost everybody will have a smartphone that can take photos. These will be helpful when filing an insurance claim.

5. Do not admit fault or apologize. If you do, you may be liable for any damages, even if you are not the one at fault. You can still be polite, just donít say anything that could be used against you later.

6. Roadside Assistance. If your car needs to be towed, contact your roadside or breakdown service with the location and a brief explanation of what damage has been done to the car. They might give you the choice of towing it to your garage or body shop, or their own yard.

7. Contact your partner, a family member or a friend. This is good for two reasons; it will give you a chance to go over the events again, and whoever you call might be able to tell if you are in some shock and unable to drive. The police might have already suggested you call a friend or family member, and this is as much about protecting yourself from having another accident if youíve been left shaken up.

8. File an insurance claim. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible, ideally the same day you had the accident. Provide them with your registration and they should then ask you about what happened, and what details you have about the other driver/s and car/s involved.

With this all said, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself in the event of an accident. There are some items you can have ready in your car, like a first aid-kit. Cheap, relatively small, and full of essentials like band-aides, bandages, pain killers and so on, a first-aid kit is mandatory to carry in some countries (for good reason) so get on the front foot and be prepared. A small fire extinguisher is another cheap, easily-stored addition that can also buy valuable time should you find yourself in an accident. Just remember they need to be replaced even when not used; for peace of mind once every five to ten years if there is no obvious external damage to the nozzle or trigger, or if the needle on the gauge is no longer in the green. The tag should tell you its date of manufacture. Sign up for roadside assistance. A lot of new cars have it included as a part of the ownership experience, but it is such great peace of mind to have, for everything from running out of fuel (it happens!), a flat tire or, of course, an accident. It could save you hundreds of dollars in towing fees.
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