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The Commuter Column: What to Do When You’re in a Car Accident

Kathleen Joyce

I know this is the last thing you want to think about when you get on the road, but it’s something that may/will happen. Every accident I’ve ever been in, I’ve always cried, screamed, panicked, and realized I had no idea what I was doing. So what did I do? I called my parents of course. But now that I’m a lot older, I want to do this on my own without calling the parents saying, “help, I just got into a car accident, please don’t kill me.” I’m going to outline what you will need to do if you are ever in an accident, or cause one.

The first thing you should do after being hit, or hitting another car, is pull over in a safe spot.  If you are hurt in any way, call the police immediately and they will arrange to send medical help.  If you haven’t been injured, take a few seconds to calm down and prepare for what the damage may be. Get out of the car and inspect the damage to both cars.  Ask the other person if he or she is okay, as well as any passengers in his or her car.  Call the police. Even if it’s a minor accident, you want the police to fill out a legal accident report just in case the other person is intoxicated, without insurance, etc.

While you are waiting for the police, you and the driver of the other car should exchange insurance information, registration information, license information, name, number, model and year of the car, and plate number.  You should also call your insurance company to let them know of the accident so you can explain the accident while it is fresh in your memory.  When talking to the insurance company, never claim responsibility, or blame somebody else. This bit of information could result in a lawsuit you would most likely want to avoid. Just say you were in an accident, where your car was damaged, and if the passengers are safe.  Taking photographs of the accident might help just in case the person you hit/or who hit you, starts to blame you for the accident and throws around the idea of a lawsuit.

An accident may seem like a terrible ordeal at the time, but later on you’ll be able to look back and learn from your mistakes.  My mistake before my accident was that I wasn’t paying attention. Now I always pay attention to avoid both an accident and my insurance rate going up.  It stinks seeing your car damaged, when most of us work to keep our cars clean and maintained. Also living without a car for a week really stunk and I wasn’t going to get stuck with my mother’s minivan for a week.  I walked instead!  It’s important to know your facts and get every bit of information there is on the person you get into an accident with. Keeping calm helps. Don’t freak out, unless of course they give you a reason to freak out. Accidents happen, that’s why we have insurance.  So as always, I wish you all safe driving, and a Happy Thanksgiving.

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