IMPORTANT STEPS FOR REDUCING YOUR FINANCIAL, LEGAL AND MEDICAL HEADACHES AFTER AN ACCIDENT
You swerve, hit the brakes and hope for the best. But the worst occurs, sending your car careening into danger – and a lot of damage.
What you do in the next 10 minutes could have a critical impact on the outcome of your accident from a financial, legal and personal perspective. Who you call, what you say, how you record the details of the event all are important in the long-term resolution and repair of your collision.
“There are some six million auto accidents every year,” said Dan Bailey, president and chief operating officer for CARSTAR, the nation’s largest chain of collision centers. “That means one in eight people will be involved in a crash this year alone, according to the National Safety Center. With these kinds of odds, it is important to be prepared so you can react calmly, quickly and intelligently when an accident happens.”
Bailey, a collision repair expert, offers the following tips for anyone involved in an accident.
1. Create a collision kit for your car. Include copies of vehicle registration and insurance verification card, sketch pad and pencil, disposable camera, flares, bottled water and a first aid kit. For a downloadable accident report form that will help you gather the information at the scene, visit www.carstar.com/resources.
2. Call 911 first. Provide as much detail as possible about the location of the accident and the condition of those involved.
3. Remain calm and collected. Even though you may be scared or even injured, it’s important to stay as calm as possible. Don’t say the accident was your fault or make any statement that might be used against you later. Be tactful and courteous, even if you’re angry.
4. Turn off your car and avoid danger. Turn off the engine and leave the car where it is if you feel it is safe. Use the hazards if it is dark. If the car is in danger of being hit, drive slowly to the side of the road or a well-lit parking lot. Warn other motorists to proceed around the accident with caution.
5. Assess your condition. If you think you’re hurt in any way, stay in your car. Only accept medical help from a professional -- and provide medical help to others ONLY if you’re trained to do so. Provide honest, detailed information to medical personnel so they can treat you.
6. Call a friend or family member. A close friend or family member can provide support and help collect the accident details. If you are transported for medical care, they can remain behind at the scene.
7. Record the accident details. Photograph the cars involved and traffic conditions. Sketch what happened, including street names, road signs and details on car movements. Get the names, addresses, phone numbers and license plates of those involved.
8. Identify the witnesses. Look for other drivers and bystanders who may have seen the accident. Get their names, addresses, phone numbers and their recollection of the accident.
9. Have a collision plan in place. Know where you’d like to have your car repaired ahead of time so you don’t have to make a sudden decision. CARSTAR Collision Service offers high-quality, reliable repair service in 27 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Just call 1-800-CARSTAR when you have an accident and they will send the tow truck, contact your insurance company, arrange for a rental car and repair your car.
10. Collect your personal items. If your car is being towed, make sure you’ve collected your valuables, electronics, briefcase, purse, vehicle information and any other items you may need while your car is being repaired.
“While an accident may range from a minor inconvenience to a major incident, you need to be prepared for any situation,” offered Bailey. “With a bit of planning and quick action at the scene of the accident, you can greatly reduce the potential for financial, insurance and medical headaches afterward. And by choosing a quality collision center like CARSTAR to repair your vehicle, you’ll have a reliable partner to help you get back on the road quickly and safely.”
For more tips on dealing with an accident or having your car repaired after a collision, visit www.carstar.com.