The average person will be in 3-4 car accidents in their lifetime. I have already met my lifetime quota of accidents so let me pass some experience on to you. Here are some step by step instructions of what to do if you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident.
1) SAFETY FIRST
Ideally, you should stop the vehicle and not move it until the police arrive. It is a crime to leave the scene. Sometimes that is not practical and it is better to move your car and yourself out of the way of more traffic. Pull over to the closest spot that is out of harm’s way Remember, safety of yourself and your passengers comes first. If it is not safe to exit your vehicle, stay in your vehicle until the police arrive.
Check yourself, your passengers, and anyone else involved in the accident for injuries. If anyone has serious injuries, render first aid. Remember, injured people should never be moved carelessly, and if you are at all unsure wait for emergency personnel to arrive. In some cases, they should not be moved at all until an ambulance or someone trained in first aid is at the scene.
2) EXCHANGE INFO
After everyone is safe talk to the other driver and exchange information, it’s a stressful time for both of you so be as cordial as possible. Make sure you get as much information as you can. Many people, myself included don’t usually have a pen and paper in my car to write on so If they allow it, take pictures of their drivers license and insurance card and put their contact info in your phone. If you happen to have a pen and paper write down as much information about the other driver, their car, their insurance, and other passengers as you can.
3) GET WITNESSES
Many times someone will stop after an accident to ask if everyone is OK, will offer sympathy, and then leave. Convince them to stay till the police arrive to be a witness. If they can’t stay, see if they will let you record them describing the accident to show the police later. Remember to get their information as well, name and phone number to reach them so the police can call them with any questions.
As a 16 year old, one month after I got my license, a 30 year old couple ran a red light and totaled my car. Luckily there was a witness who was willing to stay and talk to the police because the other driver tried to tell the police it was my fault. Without the witness there is no way the police or insurance company would have taken a teenagers word over an adult. One witness can be the difference in whose insurance company will cover the damages.
4) TAKE PICTURES
Almost everyone has smart phones these days so if you are in an accident, use them. Take pictures of anything and everything you think will be important. Take pictures of the other persons ID and insurance card, if they allow it. Document any cuts or bruises you or your passengers have (the only time I will recommend taking a selfie). Use the video camera on your phone to walk around both cars showing damage and even narrate what happened showing the surroundings, skid marks, intersections, and weather so you don’t forget the details later. Your insurance company will love this if there is any kind of dispute later on and you have some fun pictures to show your friends.
5) CALL POLICE/INSURANCE AGENTS
With the prevalence of cell phones, someone will probably call the police by the time you get to this step. In Utah, you must call the police if you are involved in an accident in which anyone was injured. You should also call the police if there is any noticeable vehicle damage.
Call your insurance agent and tell your agent about the crash. Your agent will help you report the crash to the main company. There are always different processes with different companies but your insurance agent will be able to help you through the process of taking care of your car and taking care of yourself by getting some Chiropractic care.
6) TAKE CARE OF YOU!
After an accident everyone will take their car in to a shop to get it checked, but not everyone will take themselves in to get it checked. Cars can be replaced but our bodies can’t. Just because you don’t feel injured right away doesn’t mean you won’t feel it later after the adrenaline wears off. Some symptoms if whiplash can take days or weeks to present themselves and studies have showed that collisions as low as 5-6 mph can cause injury. Whiplash and other auto related injuries can cause serious damage and take a long time to get over. The sooner the better, numerous studies have shown that Chiropractic care can reduce pain, and restore function/mobility after an accident. They also show that the quicker you start, the faster you will recover and the better your results will be. Why not?. In Utah, every auto insurance has a PIP, personal injury protection, that will cover at least a moderate amount of treatment, meaning no out of pocket cost.