7 Steps to Take After a Minor Car Accident | Steve Landers Auto Group

 

 

Given that most of us spend a good portion of our day zipping around at highway speeds in two-tons of metal, plastic and glass, mere feet from other cars, it is fairly amazing that car accidents don’t happen much more often than they do. Still, car accidents can and do happen, even to good drivers. The aftermath of a car accident, even a minor accident, can be confusing and chaotic. To avoid putting yourself, your passengers or other drivers at further risk after a crash, there are a number of steps you should follow after an accident. Here at Steve Landers Auto Group, we care about our customers, and our neighbors who may be customers someday. So read on for some tips on how to deal with the aftermath of a minor car accident.   

 

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1) Plan ahead


One of the best things you can do after an accident is take advantage of the preparations you made before an accident. Buckling your seatbelt is a no-brainer, as is making sure the car you purchase is as safe as it can be, equipped with airbags and other safety features that can keep you from suffering serious injury in a crash. If your car is a few years old, check periodically for recalls, especially those related to the airbags and safety systems. Beyond that, many police agencies and car insurance companies suggest that all drivers put together an Accident Preparedness Kit to keep in the car, with items like a small notepad, a sharpened pencil or working ink pen, a small flashlight, and a camera or charged cell phone to document damage and the accident scene. It might be helpful to put this kit in the same place as your current insurance and registration documents, so they’re there when you need them. A small first aid kit may come in handy, too. Finally, when you get in your car, try to put your cell phone in a secure place like a pocket, purse or the glove box, where it won’t fly out of reach in the aftermath of an impact. Also, check with your car insurance provider to see if they have an accident preparedness app. Many do these days, and the apps can be helpful in documenting the scene in the event of a crash.

2) Remain calm, and check for injuries


The adrenaline rush after even a minor car accident is a powerful thing, and can be overwhelming. The best thing you can do for yourself, your passengers and the others involved is to try to remain calm. As soon as the car stops moving after an impact, put the car in park and turn off the ignition if you can. After the engine is off, check yourself carefully for injuries, understanding that the shock of the impact may temporarily mask the pain of those injuries. Once you’re satisfied that you are okay, check on your passengers. If there are any apparent injuries, even seemingly minor injuries, don’t wait. Find your phone, call 911 and get an ambulance on the way immediately. Next: Check your surroundings. Is there smoke or the smell of smoke in or around your car? Can you smell gasoline? Are there downed power lines nearby? If so, check to make sure it’s safe to exit the car, get out and get away from the car.



 

3) Turn on your hazard flashers, and move your car out of the roadway if possible


Given that your car may be in the middle of a busy road or intersection, it is important for your safety and the safety of others to try to move your car out of the roadway if it can still drive under its own power. If the impact was minor enough that the engine will still start, turn on your hazard flashers and move the car off the road. Damage may cause the car to make alarming noises, but if your vehicle can steer, press on a short distance until you’re out of the roadway  Encourage the other driver to do the same. Your safety is more important than preserving the accident scene. If your vehicle won’t start or is too damaged to move, leave your hazard flashers on, check to make sure it is safe to exit the vehicle, then get out and move to a safe location out of the road, while avoiding any hazards that might be around the accident scene like spilled fluids or broken glass.

4) Call the police


The Arkansas State Police driver’s education manual notes that Arkansas law stipulates that after any car accident resulting in an injury or more than $1,000 in property damage, the police must be called, and both drivers must remain at the scene until they have spoken with a police officer. While there are various reasons why you or another driver might not want to get the police involved, state law is what it is, and damage exceeding $1,000 is likely much less severe that you probably think. If in doubt, don’t wait to talk to the other driver. Call 911 and get police on the way. When you do, calmly explain to the dispatcher that there has been an accident, give as much detail as you can about your location, and explain the extent of any injuries.  

5) Don’t engage, and don’t admit fault

 

As we’ve said, the aftermath of an even a minor car accident can be a chaotic, emotional time. Beloved vehicles may have been damaged, and people may have been injured or frightened. That, mixed with the adrenaline caused by fear and shock, may cause tempers to flare. You should check on the welfare of the other driver involved and any passengers in their car if it’s safe to do so, but keep your cool and don’t engage another driver who might be losing theirs. If the other driver becomes argumentative or angry, tell him or her the police are on the way and then go stand apart from them. If the other driver continues to be argumentative, ignore them as best you can. Whatever the case, even if you’re both keeping things calm and friendly, don’t admit fault to the other driver, even if it seems obvious you were in the wrong. When police arrive, tell the responding officers the truth as your remember it, without jumping ahead to admit your feelings of culpability. Remember: traffic crashes are often complicated, and the finding of fault is up to the police, courts and insurance investigators, not you.

 

6) Document the accident


While waiting for police and emergency services, start documenting the accident. This is where the pen, notebook and camera in your Accident Preparedness Kit comes in handy. The Arkansas State Police recommends getting the names, addresses and phone numbers of all the people involved in the accident and any witnesses who might have stopped. Exchange information with other drivers involved in the crash, including insurance information, names, addresses and phone numbers. Being careful not to walk into the roadway, hinder first responders or put yourself in danger, use your cell phone to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles that were involved as best you can. When police arrive, try to record their names and badge numbers for further reference.

7) Report the accident to your insurance company


After the injured have been cared for, the tickets written and the wrecked cars hauled off to the repair shop or the scrap heap, still to come is one of the most loathed parts of having a car accident: reporting the accident to your insurance company. On one hand, moments like this are exactly why we all buy insurance in the first place. On the other, if you were at fault or not, there’s a good chance your rates may go up for a year or more. Still, you should report an accident to your insurance company within 24 hours.

Owning a car with the most modern safety technology is a big part of keeping you and your family safe on the road. The dealers with Steve Landers Auto Group can help you find a car or truck that will both excite your senses and keep you safe if worse comes to worst. If it does, the Steve Landers Collision Center can fix your car and get it back good as new in no time. Stop in today and see how Steve Landers can help long before the going gets tough.

 

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