Car accident – five things to know before it happens to you

It’s an unfortunate reality that car accidents can happen to anyone, no matter how carefully or responsibly they drive. Hopefully you will never need to apply this information, but here are five things you need to know* about responding to an automobile accident.

  1. Never leave the scene. Despite every instinctual, emotional, or maybe even financial worry that might tempt you to escape the situation, leaving the scene will only make things worse for everyone involved, regardless of who is at fault. Tim Cadet of Cars.com suggests you remain calm and pull over to the side of the road to the extent that your car’s damage allows. If it’s just a fender bender, go ahead and get out of traffic, but if there is severe damage to one or both cars, its more important that the people involved get out to safety than trying futilely to move the wreckage.
  1. Assess any immediate medical needs. Medical needs might not need immediate attention, if they arise at all, but in a severe accident, a quick identification of injuries could make a world of difference. If there is an injury, call 9-1-1 immediately so they can respond as quickly as possible and give you the necessary information to handle the particular medical emergency at hand.
  1. Exchange information. Each party should provide full names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information to each other party involved in the accident. This information will be vital in sorting the resulting fallout from the accident. You should also receive badge numbers and names of responding police officers in case you need to request the accident report that the police file. If you can, get contact information from available witnesses or bystanders.
  1. File an accurate report. Make sure to provide the most comprehensive and accurate account of the events that you can to your insurance company and the police. Be explicit about the limits of your knowledge. Giving a yes or no answer when you don’t know for certain can complicate, delay or alter the legal, medical, or financial implications of an accident, and it is always better to admit when you don’t know for sure.
  1. Look after yourself. After an accident, never admit fault, even as a courtesy, explicitly or implicitly, to anyone except your insurance company, who you should contact as soon as possible after the accident. You also need to keep a close eye on your own health, even if you think you walked away unscathed. Even minor collisions can cause subtle spinal injuries, minor concussions, or other injuries that can go unnoticed with dangerous results. See your doctor quickly to confirm you didn’t sustain any injuries, regardless of how you feel after the accident.

It’s also a great idea to keep all necessary ID and information you might need in your glove box, and keep an emergency first aid and road safety kit in your car.

Even if you can’t control whether or not a car accident happens, you can choose to be as prepared as possible in case it does.

* DISCLAIMER: Neither the author, nor Santander Consumer USA, nor any of its partners, affiliates or subsidiaries have composed or intended this article to act as a substitute for, or to attempt to provide, medical and/or legal advice.
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