Warning: 7 Tips Everybody Ought to Know About Auto Accidents

 


No one likes to think about getting into a traffic accident, but it’s important to plan. Sources cite the likelihood of being in a car accident anywhere from 25% to 80% in a person’s lifetime. Here are seven steps you can take to make sure the process proceeds as smoothly as possible.

1. Be prepared before it happens

While auto insurance policies don’t make for exciting reading, you need to understand exactly what’s in yours. A lot of people don’t even know what their policies are. It’s important that you take a look at that. State laws vary. You’ll want to know what protections are there for you, particularly if the other person doesn’t have insurance. Make sure you have your insurance information — in both your wallet and your glove compartment, as the glove compartment could be damaged in an accident. It’s also a good idea to keep a disposable camera — unless you use your cell phone for a camera — and a pen and paper in the glove compartment.
2. Make sure everyone is OK, then call the police.
Obviously the first thing you want to do is make sure everyone involved is OK. If injuries are serious dial 911 for an ambulance. Otherwise, move your cars out of traffic to avoid another accident. Experts advise that in any accident you should call the police. “Even if the other person says, ‘I’ll take care of you; I’ve got a brother-in-law with a body shop that can fix your car,’ you still want to call,” That’s because you don’t know how things will turn out, and a police report will provide an official record of the accident. If you’re on an interstate highway, call county or state law enforcement.
If it’s a minor accident without injury or much damage, the officer will merely file an incident report, which functions as an information exchange. If the accident is more serious, the officer will create an accident report to assist the insurance process and establish legal liabilities. Be aware that if it’s a minor accident, police officers may not come to the scene.

3. Call your insurance company pronto.

People in the insurance industry say you should call your carrier regardless of the accident’s severity. If any payments have to be made to you or anyone else involved in the accident, the sooner your insurance company knows of the situation, the better. Don’t procrastinate if you do decide to call your insurance company. It can raise eyebrows with your insurer if the “other guy” calls your insurer first.

4. Gather information.

If possible, take photos, including the surrounding area, traffic signs, lane markings and the damage to vehicles involved. Photos can provide a wealth of information and assistance in handling your claim. Pictures are particularly important for accidents in parking lots or other private property, where police may not show up and it’s difficult to determine exactly what happened. Write down the name, contact information and insurance information for the other driver. If the other driver doesn’t have proof of current insurance, you can call his or her carrier at the scene to verify coverage. You also want to write down all of the accident’s details. Try to get the names and contact information for any witnesses, so they can back up your version of events. Treat parking lot accidents the same as road accidents. The crucial issue is who was at fault, just like in collisions on the road. But that’s not always obvious in a parking lot. Often parking lots don’t have stop signs or lane markings, and it’s unclear who has the right of way. So a lot of the time it’s comparative negligence. Unless you were clearly stopped or parked, and someone just backed into you, there will be some negligence attributable to you.

5. Don’t admit guilt.

Express concern for any injuries or damage sustained by anyone else involved in the accident, but don’t admit you were at fault. It may turn out you weren’t at fault. But because you’ve admitted liability, you take on yourself the cost of the wreck. Your insurance company would have to pay for the other person’s injuries, and you could see an increase in your rate as a result. If you admit blame, the police investigation of the accident might not be as thorough as usual. In conversation with the other driver, you don’t want to go beyond showing compassion and exchanging insurance and contact information. Don’t answer questions or make statements.

6. Keep track of repairs.

Keep abreast of the repair process for your car. You don’t want to just leave it all to your insurance company. The insurer would like the repairs to be done in the least-expensive manner. You may not have a lot of options (in terms of where the car is taken and how damage is fixed). But the key thing is to make sure you have the right to have original manufacturer parts put in. If the other driver contacts you after the accident, you don’t want to get involved in discussions. Politely tell the person that your insurers will handle the situation.

7. Get a Medical Check-up.

A whiplash injury occurs when the head and neck are thrown very quickly in one direction and then rebounds in another. Studies indicate that injury can occur at impact speeds of 8 mph where there is little or no damage to the car itself. National Transportation Safety Council: A one vehicle accident at 10 mph is the equivalent of a person from a second story elevation throwing a 50 lb. sack on you.
Many accident victims falsely assume that wearing their seatbelt reduced the risk of Whiplash injury. Seatbelts can actually increase the likelihood and degree of neck injury. Now, no one denies that seat-belts save lives, but when the body is firmly secured to the seat, the seatbelt actually increases the “whipping” action of the neck this can increase injury to the neck and its supporting structures. Soft tissue injuries are often not visualized on x-rays and frequently overlooked. Soft tissue injuries can cause severe debilitating pain after a car accident.
Although “rear ender” type of accidents represent on 20% of motor vehicle accidents, it causes 80% of injuries giving long-term and persistent symptoms. An older accident victim will generally suffer more serious injury because of decreased elasticity, dramatic loss of flexibility and strength, and slowing of the natural healing rate. Auto accident victims have an 80% higher incidence of osteoarthritis and get it faster.
If you have been in a car accident with an impact of 10 mph or greater it is a good idea to get checked out by your local chiropractor who is well trained to evaluate and treat these types of injuries.

What to do in an auto wreck:

1. Be prepared before it happens.
2. Make sure everyone is OK, then call the police.
3. Call your insurance company pronto.
4. Gather information.
5. Don’t admit guilt.
6. Keep track of repairs.
7. Get a Medical Check-up.