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BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT? THESE TIPS CAN MAKE IT LESS STRESSFUL

We’re all spending most of our time at home as we practice social distancing to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s likely we’ll need to leave the house at some point — to run to the grocery story, the doctor or other necessary errands. And though there might be fewer cars on the streets right now, accidents can still happen. And when they do, it’s an unsettling experience. Whether it’s a fender-bender or a head-on collision, the event instantly disrupts your day. 

But it’s important to take a deep breath and remember: Everything will be OK, as long as you’re prepared. Here a few tips to help make the situation a little less stressful.

WHAT TO DO

  • Move to a safe area and stop your vehicle: If you are not seriously injured, move your car to a safe spot such as the road’s shoulder. If you can’t move the car, put your hazard lights on. Make sure the car is in park and turn off the engine. Take a second to compose yourself. Make sure it is safe to get out of the car before opening the door.
  • Check on others: Make sure no one is hurt and call 911 if someone is injured. Even injuries that appear to be minor — dizziness, for example — should be checked out by a health care professional. 
  • Call the police: A police accident report is important even in minor accidents. Cooperate with police, but do not admit fault at the scene. Let law enforcement determine if anybody is at fault. You can file an accident report through the DMV if police do not respond to the scene.
  • Get information, document the scene, file an insurance claim: Make sure you get the names of the other driver and any passengers, as well as the other car’s license plate number, insurance information, the location of the accident, the name and badge number of responding police officers and the contact information for any witnesses. If you have a smartphone, take pictures of the scene. After gathering the information, call your insurance company. Check your ID card for contact info.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Don’t admit fault: Often in the case of an accident, drivers only see their side of the story, and they could admit fault without realizing it. An admission of fault could result in a traffic ticket and affect your insurance claim. And resist the urge to apologize to the other driver, which can be interpreted as an admission that the accident was your fault.
  • Don’t minimize injuries: Insurance settlements are largely based on injuries sustained in an accident. Some injuries don’t show up immediately, but instead surface days or weeks later. Seek medical attention as soon as symptoms appear. Don’t discuss any injuries on social media to avoid any conflict with your medical records.
  • Don’t settle with your insurance quickly: If you are not at fault, the other driver’s insurance company likely will want to settle the claim fast. It’s often best to not immediately accept the company’s initial offer — you might have additional medical expenses after the accident, for example. Consider speaking to a lawyer about a fair settlement. 
  • Don’t suggest you don’t have an attorney: You might not have decided to work with an attorney, but if an insurance company asks about your legal representation, give the name of your attorney or law firm. If you don’t have a lawyer, tell the insurance company you are considering your options. Most attorneys offer a free consultation before taking a case. 

Sources: Esurance.com. Clearfieldinjurylawyer.com